About ICVS

Research of dendritic cells in the last decade, has gathered great interest in the scientific community and forwarded steadily development of cancer vaccine for the cancer immunotherapy. The need for the vaccine development has also tremendously grown against the conventional cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy by finally valuing Quality of Life high among the cancer patients. This symposium has been called for clinical and research professionals to share research findings and development of the most advanced dendritic-cells related studies for cancer vaccine development. The symposium and all the participants are expected to update the understanding of the current findings and to encourage corroborating further research and development. The primary intention of the sponsor, Hasumi International Research Foundation is for the scientific and clinical community to meet together with active/current/top cancer vaccine researchers, and secondly this symposium could become the footstep/milestone for “World Cancer Vaccine Congress” in the near future.
  • 2001 1st ICVS in Tokyo, Japan
  • 2003 2nd ICVS in BEIJING with The National Cancer Institute of China
  • 2004 3rd ICVS in LONDON with The Royal Society of Medicine, United Kingdom
  • 2006 4th ICVS in Washington DC with US-National Cancer Institute
  • 2007 5th ICVS in Vienna, Austria with The Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • 2008 6th ICVS in New York with The New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2012 7th ICVS to be held at CONVITTE DELLA CALZA in Florence, Italy


Lowell T. Harmison, Ph.D.
Senior Executive Adviser (1999-2011)

I am honored to be here and see so many colleagues and other distinguished guests at this symposium. We are grateful for this excellent location here at the Tokyo-American Club in the very heart of the Japanese capital?where the motto is?“the place where Tokyo intersects.” It is the hub of international activity and we shall add to this fine tradition today.

I am delighted to add my welcome to each of you and to open this first Dendritic Cell Vaccine International Cancer Vaccine Symposium. The Hasumi International Research Foundation is indebted to the stellar group of speakers we have here. I want to note that meetings do not happen without great commitment and sacrifice on the part of the individuals participating in terms of their research and the amount of time it takes to travel. Also, I want to express deep appreciation to Dr. Hasumi and the Foundation for sponsoring and making possible this opportunity to come together and address the many scientific questions related to understanding and advancing Dendritic Cell Vaccines.

We all know too well the incredible toll that cancer places on individuals, families and society. To open this symposium, I would like to make four points concerning cancer and give a brief introductory statement.

My first point is that cancer is more than just a disease. It has been described in the history of medicine since the earliest medical records were kept. What has grown up around efforts to solve this five thousand year old-plus mystery is nothing short of a remarkable monument of achievement to science and society. This global cancer monument of achievement blends together the confluence of patent and family expectations, history, science, philosophy and different cultures around the world. All of these interests are working in a synergistic way to reduce the burden of cancer. Clear and indisputable progress has been made in cancer diagnosis and treatment. But, this progress is not without limitations at the patient level. It has brought us several dilemmas.

My second point concerns these dilemmas. The first dilemma involves the gaps between true knowledge and ignorance about cancer. This dilemma often puts us on a path that takes us on many illuminated but blind alleys of research and clinical trials. This is not bad. It is a part of the reality that confronts scientists and clinicians alike in unraveling the unknown. It is a part of defining information pieces that fit and/or do not fit in coming to the knowledge base and tools to reduce the burden of cancer. The second gap is between the knowhow and capacity of science and medicine in Medical Centers and what is actually available to diagnose, treat and reduce the burden of cancer in the community at the treatment level. This gap poses a constant struggle between an assessment of what works, might work and/or has the promise to impact quality of life and health outcomes. The work on filling in these two gaps to bridge aspirations is an overwhelming challenge to all involved in this global cancer effort/network to defeat and make cancer an uncommon, treatable disease.

This brings me to my third point. What is the needed stimulus for advancement? As we know, all medical capacities must come together in the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. Cancer, in most of its forms, and other diseases do not comply with the dictums and principles of just one professional discipline such as oncology. Treatments over time have demonstrated that we must also go beyond looking at a given drug and its response; we must understand and develop insights into the pathogenesis, immunological factors and immune system of the individual patient.

The medical and scientific communities were jolted and given a powerful stimulant by HIV/AIDS in 1981. To illustrate, in the last twenty years, the HIV stimulus has put in perspective the strength of any notions that successful vaccines and therapies could be rapidly developed. Here we are on another World AIDS Day (December 1, 2001) with over 40 million people HIV positive worldwide and a rapidly growing epidemic. It is a sobering reminder of the limitations of our knowledge of the immune system and its responses to different stimuli. Nevertheless, this reality check has given us some enormous progress toward understanding these immune mechanisms.

Now, my fourth point is about innovation and thinking outside the box of conventional thinking. It is time, in fact it is past the time to be innovative and to get novel, imaginative and creative concerning improved cancer treatments. The basis of my statement rests on cancer survival and true outcomes. It is clear that extensive trials with many chemo’s and radiation and/or combinations of these in various forms, concentrations, doses and means of delivery are not doing the job. Metastatic disease and recurrent disease statistics reveal the sad truth and limitations of many mainstream approaches. It is confirmed in the real world when FDA cannot decide how QOL data should be treated in the approval process or ASCO just bring QOL studies and immunotherapies into the wings of meetings instead of center stage. When we look at all of this, it tells us that we must dare to be innovative and novel or, stated another way, we must think outside the box of conventional thinking because more of the same will not cut it.

This is the point of the International Cancer Vaccine Symposium devoted to dendritic cell based vaccines. The potential of new cancer vaccines extends a real challenge to scientists and clinicians to capture this potential and give new hope to cancer patients and all those touched by cancer.

Without a doubt, the cancer vaccine landscape is changing rapidly because of our expanding genetic and molecular knowledge base. It is providing new insights into mechanisms and understanding of tumor responses. I am confident that the scientific exchange and discussions throughout this day will help us interpret the current status and appreciate new and promising avenues for dendritic cell research. What is very clear is that, given the tools we have and the limitations of cytotoxic therapy, we need to have focus and commitment to success in this area by incorporating the contributions of the many disciplines essential for progress.

Nothing is so exciting and rewarding as to see a field mature and deliver definitive research and clinical leads to combat cancer. This symposium will give breadth and depth to the progress of dendritic cellular research and vaccines. As I have noted, for much of the last fifty years, very little consideration has been given to immunotherapy and immunological responses to tumors. The prime exception is that of Hasumi Vaccines which have extended benefits to tens of thousands of patients.

Much has changed in the last decade as scientific leads and definitive information about the genetic and molecular basis of dendritic cell and tumor cell interactions have developed. The exploding base of information on cellular regulation and pathways as well as the ability to genetically modify cells and cellular components has given us a new level of understanding and expectation for dendritic cell based vaccines. Pivotal dendritic cell research and vaccine information will be the topic of our speakers during the course of this symposium. The scientific underpinning for this rests on our understanding of protein-protein interaction, genes and genetic encoding and response to cancer antigens.

As I have noted, it is important to enter these discussions with the knowledge that tumor vaccines and imunotherapies have begun to creep into the mainstream of cancer research and early clinical consideration. This situation is bolstered by the fact that invasive and growing tumors can undergo regression and possibly complete regression through vaccines and immunotherapies.

This conference is about providing insights into how the dendritic cell works and how this information can help us to better understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms to contain tumor cells, avoid tolerance and escape from detection and killing. This is the beginning of a new era for dendritic cell vaccine-based cancer immunotherapeutic approaches. We look forward to an exciting day of presentations from this stellar panel of investigators. Therefore, I am delighted to get this symposium underway.

Thank you.

December 2, 2001