Dr Tetsuya Nakatsura is a Chief of Division of Cancer Immunotherapy at Exploratory Oncology Research and Clinical Trial Center, National Cancer Center, Japan from June 2013. He is also a Visiting Professor of Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kumamoto University, and Graduate School of Biological Science, Tokyo University of Science from April 2013. Dr Nakatsura graduated from Kumamoto University School of Medicine in 1992. He was trained as a surgeon in Department of Surgery II, and in National Cancer Center Hospital East, for 5.5 years, then he joined the Department of Immunogenetics where he directed basic cancer research of Cancer Immunology at Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Sciences from 1997 to 2001. He graduated with a PhD degree from the Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, in 2001. The title of the thesis is ‘Expression of cDNA cloning and analyses of the human pancreatic cancer antigens recognized by the humoral immune system’.
Dr Nakatsura worked as an assistant professor at the same department for the next 4 years and then his group reported on immunotherapeutic target molecules for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the glypican-3 (GPC3). GPC3 is overexpressed specifically in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), hepatoblastoma, York sac tumor, ovarian clear cell carcinoma, melanoma, and lung squamous cell carcinoma. They proved serum GPC3 could be a tumor marker for HCC and melanoma, and they identified HLA-A24- and -A2- restricted GPC3-derived peptide, which can induce peptidespecific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). In October 2005, he was promoted to Section Head for Cancer Immunotherapy at Research Center for Innovative Oncology, National Cancer Center Hospital East, and there he established the first human Phase I trial of GPC3-derived peptide vaccine therapy for advanced HCC patients, as a developer, and as a clinician at National Cancer Center Hospital East from February 2007. The clinical trial indicated that GPC3 peptide vaccine therapy was well-tolerated and could induce peptide-specific CTLs in peripheral blood of most HCC patients vaccinated, and one patient showed a partial response with many CTLs infiltrating into the tumor (Clin Cancer Res 18: 3686-3696, 2012). Sponsor initiated clinical trial is now underway.
Additionally to his interest in cancer vaccine, Dr Nakatsura also studies immune checkpoint inhibitors, CAR-T cell therapy, and iPS cell derived immune cell therapy. Dr Nakatsura is a Councillor of The Japanese Cancer Association, a Director of The Japanese Association of Cancer Immunology, a Manager of Japanese Society for Molecular Tumor Marker Research, and an Active Member of The American Association for Cancer Research. He received the Encouragement Award of the Japanese Cancer Association (2006) and The Award of the Best Presentation; at the 13th World Congress on Advances in Oncology and the 11th International Symposium on Molecular Medicine (2008) and The Second Japan Research Foundation for Clinical Pharmacology Research Award (2009).