Biological therapies have been a big focus in the recent landscape of cancer treatments. These are treatments relying on substances made from living organisms and used to treat malignancies.
Among the different approaches, Adoptive Cell Transfer (ACT) has already shown some incredible potential when it managed to completely remove any trace of the disease from a patient suffering from breast cancer. This is a procedure where the most active T cells, a specific kind of immune antibody, are harvested from the tumor, grown in laboratory conditions and then injected back into the body.
The article describing this remarkable case detailed how ACT along with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILS) were used to target the particular tumor mutation. After previously unsuccessful courses of chemotherapy and hormonal treatments, the patient made a complete recovery and continues to be cancer free.
“Adoptive transfer of these mutant-protein-specific TILs in conjunction with interleukin (IL)-2 and checkpoint blockade mediated the complete durable regression of metastatic breast cancer, which is now ongoing for >22 months, and it represents a new immunotherapy approach for the treatment of these patients”.
By comparing the DNA and RNA of the tumor with that of normal tissue researcher determined 62 mutations and proceeded to test TILs that might be able to recognize the abnormal cells.
Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Surgery Branch at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and lead scientist stated that: “We’ve developed a high-throughput method to identify mutations present in a cancer that are recognized by the immune system”.
This approach will hopefully open the way to treating other forms of cancer too.
As Dr. Rosenberg mentioned: “This research is experimental right now. But because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is in a sense a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer”.