Dr. Pilon-Thomas’ primary research focus is on the enhancement of anti-tumor immune responses through the use of vaccines or adoptive cell therapy (ACT) with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) for the treatment of solid tumors. ACT with TIL is a promising form of T cell-based immunotherapy.
The premise behind this approach is that upon isolation and expansion of tumor-reactive T cells, those T cells can be transferred back to the patient as an immunotherapy. Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the few cancer centers to offer TIL-based T cell therapy for the treatment of solid tumors. Treatment with TIL therapy has resulted in a 40% response rate in metastatic melanoma patients. The goal of the lab is to improve TIL-based therapies and translate findings into TIL-based clinical trials for the treatment of solid tumors, including melanoma, sarcoma, bladder and HPV+ tumors.