The battle against advanced gastroesophageal cancer, a disease with a notorious reputation for its aggressive nature and daunting survival rates, is on the verge of a transformative breakthrough. As the veil over cancer’s complexity is gradually lifted, revealing an intricate mosaic of genetic diversity, the drive towards more personalized and effective treatments intensifies. At the forefront of this pursuit is a pioneering exploration into the genetic intricacies that shape patient responses to monoclonal antibodies, a class of cancer-fighting drugs. This investigation into specific genetic markers, particularly within the FcγRIIIA gene, heralds a promising future where cancer treatment becomes as unique as the DNA of each patient. This is a future filled with renewed hope, charting a course towards a more targeted and nuanced approach to conquering gastroesophageal cancer, one genetic insight at a time.

Advanced gastroesophageal cancer presents a significant obstacle in the field of cancer care due to its aggressive nature and the challenges associated with improving patient survival rates. In an innovative study, Dr. Anthony Serritella and Dr. Nicholas Grewal from Northwestern University have taken significant strides toward customized cancer therapies. Their research, published in the prestigious journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology, carefully examines how genetic differences influence the success of specific immune-boosting drugs in treating this type of cancer.

At the heart of their study is the examination of how these immune-boosting drugs interact with the body’s natural killer cells through a process that helps these drugs target and eliminate cancer cells. A key focus is on variations in a specific gene on these cells. Dr. Serritella shares, “Patients with certain genetic variations showed better responses to these immune therapies.” This insight emphasizes the importance of using genetic information to improve treatment outcomes for patients facing this type of cancer.

The team’s approach to uncovering this genetic influence was thorough and detailed. They studied blood samples from patients participating in a clinical trial, as well as additional patients treated at their institution. By using a technique called PCR, they identified specific genetic variations that are linked to better responses to these immune therapies. Dr. Grewal comments, “Our findings highlight the value of using genetic information to tailor cancer treatment.”

Further analysis compared survival rates over three years among patients with different genetic variations. This comparison showed a tendency for longer survival in patients with certain genetic traits. Dr. Serritella adds, “The essential role of this immune process in the effectiveness of these drugs suggests that boosting this response could be a way to improve outcomes for patients.”

This research not only offers new insights into the genetic factors that may determine the effectiveness of immune therapies in advanced gastroesophageal cancer but also paves the way for personalized medicine. Dr. Grewal concludes, “Identifying patients who are likely to respond well to these treatments based on their genetic profile allows doctors to customize therapies more effectively.” This marks a significant advancement toward improving survival rates and quality of life for patients battling this challenging disease. Ultimately, the efforts of Dr. Serritella, Dr. Grewal, and their team provide a beacon of hope for personalized cancer care. Their research clarifies the genetic factors that influence the success of immune therapy in advanced gastroesophageal cancer and opens new paths for developing more focused and effective treatment strategies.


Anthony V. Serritella, et al., “Assessment of the impact of FcγRIIIA single-nucleotide polymorphisms on the efficacy of IgG1 monoclonal antibodies in patients with advanced gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma”, European Society for Medical Oncology journal, 2023. DOI:


Dr. Serritella is a third-year Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.  He will be graduating his fellowship in June 2024 before starting as an assistant professor of medical oncology covering genitourinary and thoracic malignancies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in September 2024.

Dr. Serritella earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2006 from The University of Chicago in Economics.  He completed his Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program in 2010 at John Hopkins University.  In 2017, he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.  He completed his internship and internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago in June 2020. 

Dr. Serritella is the first author or co-author of 18 peer reviewed publications, several in high impact specialty journals and 11 poster presentations at national meetings including ASCO and the ASCO Genitourinary Symposium.  He was also accepted to the American Society of Clinical Oncology/American Association for Cancer Research Methods in Clinical Cancer Workshop in summer 2022 where he developed this protocol for a novel immunotherapy therapeutic for metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer.  He was the recipient of the 2023 ASCO Young Investigator Award. 

He also has a unique background in that he was in the business world prior to going to medical school.  Dr. Serritella worked for the BlueCross BlueShield Association as well as a technology focused investment banking firm in San Francisco before deciding to attend medical school. As an aside, during medical school Dr. Serritella had the unique opportunity to work as a Health News Fellow for NBC News in New York City.  He authored 7 different articles for electronic media describing current events in health including the development of updated prostate cancer screening guidelines, health policy reform, and FDA approvals of newly developed drugs.  He also helped produce numerous television segments for broadcast on NBC Nightly News and The Today Show that explained current health issues for patients and consumers.