Kenneth DeSantes, MD

Position title: Crawford Professor of Pediatric Oncology


Phone: 608-263-8563

4103 WI Institute Medical Research
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705

Organ System/Disease Focus
Pediatric cancer, neuroblastoma
Aligned Research Focus
Immunotherapy, NK cell therapy, Stem cell transplantation
Kenneth DeSantes headshot


More information:
Research Description:

My research is focused on the development of immunotherapeutic strategies to treat pediatric malignancies, and the development of novel therapies for neuroblastoma. I served as PI for a haploidentical transplant protocol utilizing post-transplant NK cell infusions to treat children with relapsed leukemia or solid tumors. I worked in collaboration with the Waisman Biomanufacturing Facility to establish the methodology required for the ex-vivo expansion and activation of allogeneic NK cells. I have developed a phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety of administering ex-vivo expanded allogeneic NK cells together with the anti-GD2 hu14.18-IL2 immunocytokine for children with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma and osteogenic sarcoma. I have also helped to develop a phase I/II clinical trial evaluating a novel alpha/beta T cell depletion strategy for haploidentical transplant that utilizes Zoledronate post-transplant to activate gamma/delta T cells. I have extensive experience administering therapeutic 131I-MIBG and established UW Madison-AFCH as one of ~ 25 131I-MIBG treatment centers in the US. I am serving as co-PI for an international study exploring the use of 131I-MIBG, in combination with PD-1 blockade (using nivolumab) and an anti-GD2 mAb, to treat children with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. I also served as the study chair for the first collaborative SU2C/St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Oncology Dream Team clinical trial utilizing MGA271, an anti-B7-H3 mAb, to treat children with relapsed or refractory B7-H3-expressing solid tumors.

Selected References:
  • Curative Potential of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant in Type 1 Diabetes
    McCabe KE, Pollock AJ, Rehm JL, DeSantes KB. Pediatr Diabetes. 2016 Aug 30. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12430. [Epub ahead of print]
  • MY Elsaid, CM Capitini, CA Diamond, M Porte, and KB DeSantes. Successful matched unrelated donor stem cell transplant in Hemoglobin Bart’s disease. Accepted for publication in Bone Marrow Transplantation, 2016 Jun 13. doi: 10.1038/bmt.2016.153. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Capitini CM, Otto M, De Santes, KB., Sondel PM. Immunotherapy in pediatric malignancies: current status and future perspectives. Future Oncol. 10(9): 1659-1678, 2014.
  • Damodharan SN, Walker KL, Forsberg MH, McDowell KA, Bouchlaka MN, Drier DA, Sondel PM, DeSantes KB, Capitini C. Analysis of ex vivo expanded and activated clinical grade human NK cells after cryopreservation. Cytotherapy. 2020 Aug;22(8):450-457. PMCID: PMC7387178.
  • Undifferentiated and unresectable sarcoma with NTRK3-fusion in a pediatric patient treated with larotrectinib and proton beam radiotherapy. Mallery R. Olsen, Ryan A. Denu Jane B. Lyon, Jessica M. Gulliver MD, Christian M. Capitini, Kenneth B. DeSantes. The Journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology  April 2022; 44(3):e770-e774