Last updated June 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Breakthrough may provide treatment for ‘untreatable’ cancers.
US researchers have eliminated a patient’s breast cancer using her own T cells, in what they say is the first successful case of T cell immunotherapy for late-stage breast cancer.
Dr Steven Rosenberg and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health cultivated cells which could recognise and attack the patient’s tumour before returning them to her body where they did their job and left her tumour-free.
They say their method will have to be tested in larger clinical trials, but that it potentially could be used to treat currently “untreatable” cancers.
The most successful clinical immunotherapeutic approaches to treat cancer are immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive T cell therapy. In the former, patients are injected antibodies which block specific interactions between the patient’s immune cells and tumour cells to control the immune response. In the latter, T cells are taken from a patient’s blood or tumour, and only those that recognise the tumour are cultivated and subsequently returned into the patient.
The success of these approaches varies greatly between cancer types. To date, clinical trials using immune checkpoint blockade to treat breast cancer have proved ineffective. This case used a combination of adoptive T cell therapy and immune checkpoint blockade, dispelling previous concerns that they would not work together.
Rosenberg’s team isolated and reactivated cancer-specific T cells from a patient whose metastatic breast cancer was progressing despite several lines of therapy. These reactivated T cells eliminated all metastatic lesions in the patient, leaving her free of disease for the past two years.
The paper published online in Nature Medicine.