Wednesday, 02 March, 13:00

Presentation Title, Constructing therapies for cancer patients by measuring mitochondrial apoptotic signaling

Speaker Profile

Anthony Letai received his MD and PhD at the University of Chicago, completing clinical training in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, after a post-doc with Stanley Korsmeyer.  Since 2004 Dr. Letai has run a laboratory at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to study how apoptosis can be evaded by cancer cells. Key to these studies is a novel assay – BH3 profiling.  He has led efforts to translate BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1 antagonists into the clinic.  These include venetoclax, a BCL-2 antagonist approved by the FDA for CLL and AML and now being tested across nearly all blood cancers.  The laboratory is testing whether BH3 profiling can be used as a broad predictive biomarker to assign clinical cancer therapy. In an attempt to unite others across the world who also pursue ex-vivo functional testing, in 2018, he founded the Society of Functional Precision Medicine, and serves as its President.


While many targeted therapies for cancer are being developed, none work on all human tumors, and oncologists do not have tools to match patients to drugs their tumor will respond to.  Here, using a technology called Dynamic BH3 Profiling that rapidly measures changes in cancer cells in response to drugs, I will describe a new approach to personalize cancer chemotherapy, and also to develop drugs directly using patient samples thus increasing the chances they will work on human tumors.