Q&A with Omid Hamid, MD, Director of the Melanoma Center and Phase I Immuno-Oncology Program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute
Dr. Omid Hamid is recognized nationally and internationally as a key opinion leader in Immuno-Oncologic Drug Development and Melanoma Therapeutics. Through his role as the Chief of Immunotherapy and Translational Research, patients at The Angeles Clinic have benefited from first in class, paradigm-shifting drugs.
Tell us a little about yourself and your practice
I am a medical oncologist who practices in Los Angeles, California. My practice is at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute. We are a freestanding oncology clinic and research institute. My expertise is in cutaneous malignancies, including Merkel cell carcinoma, melanoma, and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Because of my experience and research interest in immunotherapy, I have been part of the development of new checkpoint inhibitors and immunotherapies which extend beyond melanoma to multiple other solid tumors. Through our melanoma and phase I immune-oncology program, we are able to develop new immunotherapies.
How did you come to be involved in the treatment of melanoma?
Rather fortuitously I became involved in the treatment of melanoma through my medical school, internship, and residency at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to work with Jeff Weber during his time there. Weber is a phenomenal physician, educator, and mentor. He taught me about bio-chemotherapy, interleukin-2, and a new drug at that time, anti-CTLA 4 therapy (Ipilimumab). I was instantly hooked and after fellowship was given the opportunity to remain on staff and continue to work with Dr. Weber. Working with Dr. Weber enabled me many opportunities, including involvement in drug development. I became addicted instantly and haven’t looked back since.
In the last few years, we have seen a number of new drugs approved for the treatment of melanoma. What are some of the considerations that a patient and physician should take into account when determining which treatment option to choose?
In the field of melanoma, we have been fortunate, lately, to have a number of new drugs approved for the treatment of early stage and late-stage disease. I would counsel patients to discuss with their oncologist their most important considerations in relation to which treatment option to choose. Although there are standard first-line options, I recommend a discussion about goals, toxicities, lifestyle at every point. If standard therapies have been utilized and are unsuccessful, I recommend looking for clinical trials. At that point, I would counsel a patient to seek multiple opinions, work very hard to understand the expected experience with the drug and its toxicities and seek the guidance of their local oncologist along with a Key Opinion Leader in melanoma.
What is adjuvant therapy and who should consider adjuvant therapy?
Adjuvant therapy is treatment given in addition to initial treatment (which would include surgery) to decrease the risk of the cancer returning. An adjuvant patient has no evidence of disease in his/her body through physical exam or imaging, but experience tells us that there is an increased risk of recurrence for these patients even if there is no current evidence of disease. Through adjuvant therapy for any tumor whether it is immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy—we seek to decrease the risks of the tumor returning and posing a risk to the patient.
When should a patient consider participating in a clinical trial?
In my opinion, patients should seek out a clinical trial at every stage of their diagnosis and treatment. There are clinical trials that offer an addition to standard therapy for newly diagnosed patients. Clinical trials can also find an option for treatment when no standard option exists for patients who have exhausted standard options. My opinion is that a consultation for evaluation for clinical trial involvement should be done at every decision-making point in the patient’s care. All drugs that have become standard and are FDA approved at some point were part of the clinical trial program.
How would a collaborative melanoma tissue bank consortium help advance the prevention, detection, and treatment of melanoma?
A collaborative melanoma tissue bank consortium is at this time one of the most important initiatives in melanoma therapeutics and research. A significant proportion of our patients have failed to obtain benefit from standard therapeutics. We also have a lack of appropriate initial predictive and prognostic biomarkers to indicate who would respond to which therapy, either standard or experimental. With a collaborative tissue bank, we could query tissue from patients who have had an extraordinary response to standard and nonstandard therapies in order to clarify predictive markers that would give us a better indication of therapeutic benefit for patients. Knowing who would likely respond to which treatment would save time for patients by allowing them to seek therapeutics that would give them the most optimal outcome. We would also be able to understand the predictors of clinical toxicity with treatments and avoid significant morbidity for our patients. A collaborative tissue bank would allow a concerted effort among the best and brightest at multiple institutions, avoid redundant experiments and evaluations, and offer a volume of tissue greater than tissue banks at solitary institutions. The recent failures of significant drugs in development have shown that we must take a more deliberate path towards drug development based on a platform of tissue and blood biomarkers.
Attend the 9th Los Angeles Melanoma Symposium
AIM at Melanoma in partnership with The Angeles Clinic & Research Institute will present a free patient and caregiver symposium on May 19th from 8 AM – 1 PM at the Beverly Hills Marriott 1150 S Beverly Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90035. The symposium is dedicated to patients, survivors, caregivers, and family members interested in exploring the critical health issues surrounding melanoma and survivorship.
Click Here for further information, as well as to register to attend in person or register to view the symposium via a live streaming feed.
We understand that for a variety of reasons, individuals sometimes are unable to attend these events in person. In order to ensure that everyone in the melanoma community can access this information, we will simultaneously live stream this symposium.
About Omid Hamid, MD
Chief, Translational Research and Immunotherapy
Director, Melanoma Therapeutics
As the Director of the Melanoma Center and Phase I Immuno-Oncology Program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, Dr. Omid Hamid works to ensure that patients receive access to the most up-to-date therapeutics. Most recently, in his role with the Phase 1 Developmental Therapeutics Program, Dr. Hamid has been instrumental in bringing new therapies from the investigational lab to the clinic for patient benefit. These therapies involve Immuno-Oncologic therapies such as PD-1 inhibitors (Keytruda, Nivolumab, Atezolizumab) and other checkpoint inhibitors, therapies against tumor angiogenesis, and targeted agents that block internal processes in tumor cell’s function (BRAF/MEK). Dr. Hamid’s research focus involves manipulation of a patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells and maintain continuously elevated levels of immunity and discovery of novel therapies. His research began in melanoma and has now extended into paradigm-shifting trials for all cancers.
Dr. Hamid is recognized nationally and internationally as a key opinion leader in Immuno-Oncologic Drug Development and Melanoma Therapeutics. Through his role as the Chief of Immunotherapy and Translational Research, patients at The Angeles Clinic have benefited from first in class, paradigm-shifting drugs. Dr. Hamid was an investigator in the initial trials with Ipilimumab, Pembrolizumab, Nivolumab, Atazolizumab and Vemurafenib, agents that led to significant survival benefits in the lives of our patients. Through his leadership, the next phase of agents has become available to our patients. He has been a key investigator on combinations of BRAF/MEK inhibitors and novel immune therapy with PD-1 antibodies and continues to be at the forefront of drug development. His current work focuses on Next-Generation Checkpoint Inhibitors including anti-OX40, 41BB, GITR antibodies with a focus on bringing T-cell adoptive therapies and bispecific antibodies to our program.
Dr. Hamid has presented research conducted at The Angeles Clinic at major national and international meetings including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Society for Melanoma Research, and many other key national and international meetings. He has published manuscripts, abstracts, and reviews on immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and melanoma care in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Clinical Cancer Research.
Dr. Hamid’s clinical research focus includes:
- Biomarker research
- Personalized therapy
- Combination therapy for Melanoma and Solid Tumors
- Phase I therapeutics
- Brain metastasis and tumors