Dr. Edward Nelson, MD
Dr. Edward Nelson, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology Division
Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Med Surg II- 375B

Dr. Edward Nelson, MD is a breast health care physician and scientist whose research focuses on methods to make patient's immune system fight their cancer better. Dr. Nelson is investigating a novel cancer vaccine strategy and works with Dr Mehta in the evaluation of biological compounds along with Drs. Blumberg and Tromberg.

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Research Profile

1. What is your breast cancer specialty?

Our focus is on making the immune system fight breast cancer better. We are developing new and very promising treatments that induce the immune system to seek out and destroy an individual's own breast cancer cells. We have a particularly promising novel immunotherapy strategy that is close to being ready for evaluation in clinical studies. We are also investigating different ways of giving breast cancer treatment so as to improve on the immune system's ability to fight cancer. I also take care of breast cancer patients, even if they are not participating in one of our studies.

2. Why is this an important part of breast cancer care?

Although recent treatment advances for breast cancer have led to patients being disease free for a longer time and improved overall survival, the majority of breast cancer patients recur. This indicates that occult tumor cells exist in our patients' bodies even after our best treatments. The immune system has the capacity to "search out and destroy" virus infected cells throughout the body and thus, is uniquely suited to do the same for hidden tumor cells. The problem is that all cancer, including breast cancer, is different from an infection and the immune system has more difficulty seeing and destroying tumor cells. If we can make the immune system search out and destroy hidden tumor cells, then we can make breast cancer stay away even longer and possibly even increase the percentage of breast cancer patients that are cured.

3. How is this different then what might be offered in the community (outside of UC Irvine )?

We are developing immune therapies that can be used for anyone with breast cancer. Our pre-clinical studies are exploring a new and powerful technology that targets the most potent immune system stimulating cell, called a dendritic cell, to jump start the immune system for recognizing and destroying tumor cells. No other group in the USA or world is exploring this technology and system for breast cancer immunotherapy. We are also combining therapies with an FDA approved growth factor, GM-CSF, which also has the capacity to help dendritic cells do their job better in addition to helping with patient's blood counts. These pre-clinical and clinical studies are unlike any others in Southern California.

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