Immune cell therapy may revolutionize leukemia treatment
A team of researchers, who conducted largest ever study of patients with advanced leukemia, have found that 88 percent achieved complete remissions after being treated with genetically modified versions of their own immune cells, thus demonstrating that cell therapy is a powerful treatment for patients who have exhausted all conventional therapies.
Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering and one of the study's senior authors said their initial findings have held up in a larger cohort of patients, and they are already looking at new clinical studies to advance this novel therapeutic approach in fighting cancer.
Adult B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), a type of blood cancer that develops in B cells, is difficult to treat because the majority of patients relapse. Patients with relapsed B-ALL have few treatment options; only 30 percent respond to salvage chemotherapy.
In the current study, 16 patients with relapsed B-ALL were given an infusion of their own genetically modified immune cells, called T cells. The cells were "reeducated" to recognize and destroy cancer cells that contain the protein CD19.
While the overall complete response rate for all patients was 88 percent, even those with detectable disease prior to treatment had a complete response rate of 78 percent, far exceeding the complete response rate of salvage chemotherapy alone.
Cell-based, targeted immunotherapy is a new approach to treating cancer that harnesses the body's own immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells.
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
(Posted on 23-02-2014)