Shimon Slavin MD., Professor of Medicine, board certified Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology, Allergy & Rheumatology, trained at Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California and later in Stem Cell Transplantation at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA. Slavin was the Founder and Director of Hadassah University Hospital’s Center for Bone Marrow Transplantation & Cancer Immunotherapy in Jerusalem, recognized as Israel’s National Center and served as the 1st President of Israel’s Bone Marrow Transplantation Society. Baxter International based in Deerfield, Illinois, USA recognized Slavin’s potential contributions and established The Baxter International Research Center at Slavin’s center at Hadassah Hospital. In the past, Slavin served as the Medical Director of Cancer Immunotherapy at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Zion, Chicago. At present, Slavin serves as the Medical & Scientific Director of Biotherapy International, The Center for Innovative Cancer Immunotherapy & Cellular Medicine, and he was recently appointed as The Medical Director, HepC Therapeutics, Budapest, Hungary in partnership with ProBioGen, Berlin, Germany.
Prof. Slavin is a most devoted and well known clinician as well as an innovative scientist, mostly involved in immune regulation and immunotherapy of cancer, Slavin has conceived and pioneered many innovative therapeutic procedures and pioneered their clinical application from the bench to the patient’s bedside. Many of these therapeutic procedures resulted in cure of a large number of otherwise incurable patients worldwide, as will be detailed below.
While at Stanford University, Slavin introduced a new approach for induction of transplantation tolerance to bone marrow and organ allograft. He discovered the first animal model of spontaneous B cell leukemia which served him and others to explore the biology of B cell tumors and develop new approaches for treatment of hematologic malignancies based on cell-mediated immunotherapy. At his new center at Hadassah Medical Center, Slavin’s introduced the concept of cancer immunotherapy following stem cell transplantation using donor lymphocytes infusion (DLI) in early 1986 and the first patient considered incurable by any other available treatment is alive and well, disease free, already for more than 34 year. Successful cure of the first patient, prompted Slavin to introduce the use of cell-mediated immunotherapy and cytokine activated lymphocytes, for treatment of cancer resistant to conventional modalities and for prevention of relapse following stem cell transplantation for hematologic malignancies and certain metastatic solid tumors. Later on, Slavin focused on cell therapy trying to replace the need for hazardous myeloablative conditioning prior to allogeneic stem cell transplantation and developed the use of reduced intensity conditioning (RIC) or non-myeloablative stem cell transplantation (NST) known as “mini transplant” for safer stem cell transplantation for treatment of malignant and non-malignant diseases correctable by stem cells with no upper or lower age limit. He also pioneered the use of non-engrafting, intentionally mismatched killer cells, including both T and NK cells activated with interleukin 2 (IL-2) prior to and following cell infusion that could be targeted selectively against cancer cells by monoclonal antibodies directed against cell-surface cancer associated antigens. More recently, Slavin patented the use activated donor lymphocytes targeted against cancer with bispecific antibodies and the use of immunotherapeutic monoclonal antibody complexes for eradication of cancer followed by induction of long-lasting anti-cancer immunity against residual or recurrent disease. In parallel, Slavin and his team developed new a new approach to neutralize host-vs-graft and graft-vs-host reactivity, a procedure that is now commonly used for transplantation of half-matched donor stem cells for treatment of malignant and non-malignant diseases, also applicable for successful induction of transplantation tolerance to organ allografts. This discovery made it possible to treat patients in need of stem cell transplantation with no matched donor available using a haploidentical family member. Furthermore, Slavin documented that immunotherapy by intentionally mismatched killer cells, including both T and NK cells, provides the most effective approach for immunotherapy of otherwise resistant cancer cells.
At present, Slavin focuses on pioneering the use of newer approaches for more effective cell-mediated immunotherapy of multi-drug resistant cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Such resistant malignant cells are the reason why cancer remains a leading cause of death worldwide. Following Slavin’s concept using user-friendly smart & safe rather than aggressive & hazardous methods for treatment of cancer, new approaches are currently being explored by targeting intentionally mismatched killer cells, using anti-cancer vaccines and cancer-killing oncolytic virus viruses.
In addition to pioneering new approaches for treatment of cancer, cell-mediated procedures were developed by Slavin for treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases as well as for regenerative medicine for treatment of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders and for treatment of renal failure and early cases of type 1 diabetes mellitus focusing on the use of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). When indicated, donor stem cells can be used for induction of transplantation tolerance to donor allografts in order to avoid the need for life-long use of hazardous immunosuppressive agents.
Safer use of donor’s stem cells made it possible to cure patients with genetic disorders including severe beta thalassemia major, Fanconi’s anemia, Gaucher’s disease, infantile osteopetrosis and severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) to name just a few. Slavin accomplished the first successful gene therapy of adenosine deaminase deficiency, curing the first patient with SCID in collaboration with an Italian team, and using his protocol resulted in successful consistent cure of many other patients with SCID. The first patient was successfully treated in 2002 and never needed any medical attention since then.
Some of Slavin’s recent treatment protocols not yet approved by local regulatory authorities for compassionate treatment of patients in need are currently applicable in collaborating satellites in a few clinics abroad.
Slavin’s accomplishments in basic science and medicine are best represented in a respectful list of 680 scientific publications and 4 books. Slavin serves on many editorial boards of many scientific and medical journals and received many National and International awards in recognition for his contributions. Being recognized as one of the leaders of innovative approaches for stem cell transplantation, cell therapy and immunotherapy for treatment of malignant and non-malignant disorders, he has a record of >900 invited lectures in national and international meetings abroad. Accordingly, some of his innovative procedures for treatment of patients in need are currently extended in collaborating satellite clinics abroad.
Consultation with Slavin’s team and treatment at Biotherapy International or in any of the relevant collaborating centers, attract patients from all over the world searching innovative procedures for treatment of diseases considered otherwise incurable, based on personalized, sometimes out-of-the-box approaches, in full consideration of disease-specific and patient-specific factors.
Based on his accomplishments and recognition, Slavin was asked to train medical teams from all over the world and helped establish new transplant centers in Singapore, China, Thailand, India, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania, Russia, Bulgaria, Chile and Argentina.
Taken together, Slavin’s contributions represent a major step forward towards improving currently available methods for treatment of a broad spectrum of malignant and life-threatening non-malignant disorders introducing new potential solutions for unmet needs.
Current focus and future direction
Prof. Slavin’s current focus and future direction are based on introducing new approaches for immunotherapy of cancer, activating both the patient’s own immune system and targeting the donor’s immune system to fight off disease electively, like guided missiles. Another approach is based on using vaccines prepared from patient’s own cancer cells modified by oncolytic virus or Coley’s toxin in order to force an immune response against non-immunogenic cancer cells altered by immunogenic agents. This is why cryopreservation of cancer tissue is always recommended following any therapeutic or diagnostic surgical removal of cancer lesions. More recently, several oncolytic viruses are also available for treatment of cancer.
Therapeutic procedures for treatment of non-malignant disorders
Slavin and his team are exploiting the use of cell therapy based on the use of multipotent stem cells to treat a large spectrum of non-malignant disorders against various inflammatory or autoimmune diseases on the one hand, and clinical conditions with indication for regenerative medicine on the other.
More detailed summary of Slavin’s accomplishments supported by the relevant scientific literature can be visited at Shimon Slavin – Wikipedia.