Raffit Hassan, M.D.

Raffit  Hassan, M.D.
Senior Investigator
Head, Thoracic and Solid Tumor Immunotherapy Section

Dr. Hassan has played a pivotal role in validating the tumor differentiation antigen mesothelin as a target for cancer therapy and development of mesothelin targeted immunotherapy. This work has laid the foundation for several mesothelin directed agents that he is evaluating in the clinic for treatment of mesothelioma, lung and pancreatic cancer. His clinical trials using an anti-mesothelin immunotoxin has shown major tumor responses in patients with mesothelioma. Ongoing efforts are directed to exploiting this approach for treatment of lung and pancreatic cancer.

Areas of Expertise

1) mesothelioma, 2) mesothelin, 3) immunotoxins, 4) immunotherapy, 5) lung cancer,
6) pancreatic cancer

Contact Info

Raffit Hassan, M.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Bldg 10; 10 Center Drive room: 4E-5330
Bethesda, MD 20892
Ph: 240-760-6232

Dr. Hassan's research interest is focused on developing targeted immunotherapy, especially immunotoxins, for patients with malignant mesothelioma and other solid tumors. While working as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ira Pastan, Dr. Hassan did pioneering preclinical work on the tumor differentiation antigen mesothelin as a target for cancer therapy and he has played a key role in bringing mesothelin-directed therapies to the clinic.

A major focus of the Hassan laboratory is developing mesothelin-targeted agents for treating cancer. These include an anti-mesothelin immunotoxin (SS1P), a chimeric monoclonal antibody to mesothelin (Amatuximab), an anti-mesothelin antibody drug conjugate (BAY 94-9343) and a mesothelin vaccine (CRS-207).

His initial pre-clinical studies and early phase clinical trials of the immunotoxin SS1P validated mesothelin as a therapeutic target for cancer therapy. His work is now focused on increasing the efficacy of SS1P in patients. The two approaches his laboratory is studying include combining SS1P with chemotherapy and decreasing the immunogenicity of immunotoxins. His group has recently shown major and durable tumor responses in patients with treatment refractory mesothelioma by combining SS1P with immunosupression. This work opens up the field of immunotoxin therapy for solid tumors and ongoing studies will elevate this approach for treatment of common cancers, including lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, Dr. Hassan and his collaborators will continue to develop less immunogenic immunotoxins for treatment of cancer.

His laboratory studies include development of mesothelioma patient-derived xenografts that mimic the molecular characteristics of patient tumors and are valuable for preclinical studies of mesothelin-directed agents. In addition, his laboratory studies the role of mesothelin in different tumors, the tumor immune environment of human meosthelioma and changes following treatment with immunotoxin therapy.

NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Clinical Research, Immunology
View Dr. Hassan's PubMed Summary.

Selected Key Publications

  1. Jiang Q, Ghafoor A, Mian I, Rathkey D, Thomas A, Alewine C, Sengupta M, Ahlman MA, Zhang J, Morrow B, Steinberg SM, Pastan I, Hassan R.
    Sci Transl Med. 12 (550): 2020. Full-Text Article [ Journal Article ]
  2. Hassan R, Alewine C, Mian I, Spreafico A, Siu LL, Gomez-Roca C, Delord JP, Italiano A, Lassen U, Soria JC, Bahleda R, Thomas A, Steinberg SM, Peer CJ, Figg WD, Niederfellner G, Méresse Naegelen V, Pastan I.
    Cancer. 126 (22): 4936-4947, 2020. Full-Text Article [ Journal Article ]
  3. Hassan R, Blumenschein GR Jr, Moore KN, Santin AD, Kindler HL, Nemunaitis JJ, Seward SM, Thomas A, Kim SK, Rajagopalan P, Walter AO, Laurent D, Childs BH, Sarapa N, Elbi C, Bendell JC.
    J Clin Oncol. 38 (16): 1824-1835, 2020. Full-Text Article [ Journal Article ]
  4. Hassan R, Morrow B, Thomas A, Walsh T, Lee MK, Gulsuner S, Gadiraju M, Panou V, Gao S, Mian I, Khan J, Raffeld M, Patel S, Xi L, Wei JS, Hesdorffer M, Zhang J, Calzone K, Desai A, Padiernos E, Alewine C, Schrump DS, Steinberg SM, Kindler HL, King MC, Churpek JE.
    Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116 (18): 9008-9013, 2019. Full-Text Article [ Journal Article ]
  5. Khanna S, Graef S, Mussai F, Thomas A, Wali N, Yenidunya BG, Yuan C, Morrow B, Zhang J, Korangy F, Greten TF, Steinberg SM, Stetler-Stevenson M, Middleton G, De Santo C, Hassan R.
    Clin Cancer Res. 24 (12): 2859-2872, 2018. Full-Text Article [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Raffit Hassan is a medical oncologist and senior investigator at NCI. He received his medical degree from the University of Kashmir, India in 1988 and did his internship and residency training in internal medicine at Sisters Hospital, University of Buffalo and subsequently completed his medical oncology fellowship at the NCI. After finishing his fellowship training he joined the medical faculty at the University of Oklahoma in 1998. He returned to NCI as a tenure track investigator in 2002 and received tenure in 2008. Dr. Hassan is a recipient of the ASCO Career Development Award, the NIH Patient Oriented Research Career Development Award and the Pioneer Award from the Mesothelioma Foundation.

Name Position
Maria Garcia Agra R.N. Clinical Research Nurse (Contr)
Romi Biswas Ph.D. Research Fellow
Gideon Blumenthal M.D. Clinical Collaborator
Qun Jiang Ph.D. Staff Scientist
Mana Kamana Khanal Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Chul Kim M.D. Clinical Fellow
Firouzeh Korangy Ph.D. Scientist (Contr)
Idrees Mian M.D. Clinical Fellow
Vikram Misra Ph.D. Bioinformatics Scientist (Contr.)
Betsy Morrow Biologist
Manjistha Sengupta Ph.D. Clinical Trials Specialist (Contr.)
Chaido Stathopoulou Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Sakshi Tomar Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)
Jingli Zhang Biologist