Technique Directs Immune Cells to Target Leukemia
New York, NY - A type of targeted immunotherapy induced remission in adults with an aggressive form of leukemia that had relapsed in 5 patients. The early results of this ongoing trial highlight the potential of the approach.
When adult patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have remission followed by relapse, the prognosis is poor. Standard treatment uses chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, followed by a transplant of bone marrow stem cells to replace blood-forming cells destroyed by the chemotherapy.
Targeted immunotherapy has proven effective against less aggressive B-cell tumors. This technique directs the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. The researchers first remove T cells from the patient. These cells are genetically modified to produce an artificial receptor that can latch onto B cells and trigger their destruction. The modified T cells are then infused back into the patient.
As the technique showed success in targeting other types of B-cell tumors, a team led by Drs. Michel Sadelain and Renier J. Brentjens at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center set out to test it in people with relapsed B-cell ALL. The receptor they added to the patients’ T cells was a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) designed to target a protein called CD19 found on the surface of B cells. Their phase I clinical trial results appeared in Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers found that all 5 of the patients who received the therapy were in complete remission within weeks of the CAR-modified T-cell infusion. Three patients were able to receive bone marrow transplants 1 to 4 months after the cell transfer therapy and were still in remission up to 2 years later. One patient was unable to receive a stem cell transplant after the targeted therapy and relapsed. Another died while in remission of complications likely unrelated to the therapy. Continue>
Posted in: Specialties | December 9, 2016
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