Researcher Spotlight: Lapo Alinari, MD, PhD

The Ohio State University

 

Dr. Alinari’s Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Program (LCRMP) project investigates the combination of ibrutinib (Imbruvica) and nivolumab (Opdivo) in relapsed or refractoryA cancer that is resistant to treatment.A cancerAbnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors. that is resistant to treatment. Hodgkin lymphomaOne of the two major types of lymphoma that begin in the lymph nodes and tissues of the lymphatic system. All other lymphomas are classified as non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Hodgkin lymphoma has characteristic cell, the Reed-Sternberg cell, seen by the pathologist under the microscope when looking at the tissue from the biopsy.One of the two major types of lymphoma that begin in the lymph nodesSmall bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. There are thousands of lymph nodes located throughout the body, with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. and tissues of the lymphatic systemThe channels, tissues and organs that store and carry lymphocytes that fight infection and other diseases.. All other lymphomas are classified as non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Hodgkin lymphoma has characteristic cell, the Reed-Sternberg cell, seen by the pathologistA physician who specializes in studying disease through a microscopic evaluation of body tissues and organs. under the microscope when looking at the tissue from the biopsyRemoval of a small piece of tissue for evaluation under a microscope.. (HL) patients. Nivolumab, a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitorA drug that prevents cancer cells from suppressing immune responses.A drug that prevents cancer cells from suppressing immune responses., has already shown promising activity in HL patients, but ibrutinib has not been tested in this patient population. Dr. Alinari’s trial will measure both the efficacy of this potential combination therapy and also seek to better understand the mechanisms behind the activity of both agents. “Our study has the potential to improve clinical outcomes of Hodgkin lymphoma patients and results could change the treatment paradigm in this patient population,” Dr. Alinari says.

Dr. Alinari developed his interest in hematologic malignancies while a medical student at the University of Florence, in his native Italy. After receiving his MD, Dr. Alinari moved to The Ohio State University (OSU), where he is currently a Hematology Fellow. While at OSU, he has also completed a PhD in experimental hematology. “Over the past years, I have realized that my true passion involves preclinical and clinical development of novel strategies to treat lymphoma patients,” Dr. Alinari says, adding that he hopes to become an independent investigator focusing on both discovering novel therapeutic targets as well as developing novel therapies for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Already possessing a strong laboratory background, Dr. Alinari sees his LCRMP as a way to strengthen his clinical research skills. “I am committed to a translational research career in lymphomas and the Lymphoma Research Foundation will help me to fill the gap between preclinical and clinical research by strengthening my education and allowing me the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the field and learn from the colleagues I hope to emulate in my own career,” he notes. “I have found that witnessing my preclinical research translated into therapies that may offer patients superior care over standard treatments to be a rewarding and noble career path to follow.”