High response rates to experimental immunotherapy in patients with treatment-resistant chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Dec. 3, 2016

Dr. Cameron Turtle

Dr. Cameron Turtle presented findings regarding CAR T-cell therapies in leukemia and lymphoma patients at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology last June in Chicago.

ASCO file photo

The 24 patients had undergone most standard therapies available to them and yet their chronic lymphocytic leukemia had come back strong. Almost all of them had been treated with a newly approved, targeted drug called ibrutinib; data from other studies show that most patients whose disease progresses after ibrutinib treatment do not survive long. The majority of the 24 had chromosomal markers in their leukemia cells that [DAE1]  “predictors of a bad response to most standard therapies,” said Dr. Cameron Turtle of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

But most of these patients, who were enrolled in a small, early-phase trial, saw their advanced tumors shrink or even disappear after an infusion of genetically engineered immune cells. Turtle, one of the study’s leaders, presented the results on Saturday at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

In the trial, participants’ disease-fighting T cells were removed from their blood and genetically engineered in a lab at Fred Hutch to produce an artificial receptor, called a CAR, or chimeric antigen receptor, that empowered them to recognize and destroy cancer cells bearing a target molecule called CD19. After patients received chemotherapy, the CAR T cells were infused back into their bloodstream to kill their CD19-positive cancers.

Clinic will allow researchers to conduct twice as many immunotherapy trials, enable intensive patient monitoring to improve experimental therapies.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Tuesday announced the official opening of a first-of-its-kind clinic dedicated to providing immunotherapies for cancer patients in clinical trials.

The Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic, named in recognition of a family that has been deeply committed to the Hutch and its work to advance immunotherapy, will allow researchers to conduct twice as many immunotherapy trials in the next year.

Roche’s Genentech has received FDA approval for an immunotherapy targeting the highly sought-after PD-L1. The treatment may be able to outperform its competitors in lung cancer therapies.

roche logoIn May, Roche received approval for Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in bladder cancer. Now, the drug is expanding its indications to become the first and only cancer immunotherapy in the market to target the checkpoint inhibitor Program-Death ligand 1 (PD-L1) in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

When injected into the body, Tumor Paint lights up cancers. The drug could lead to a new class of therapeutics


To make Tumor Paint, Jim Olson's team extracts molecules from the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus).(Wikipedia)

By Nathan Hurst


On Sunday at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2016 Congress, Merck revealed results of two clinical trials that treated lung cancer patients with immunotherapy and could pave the way for its use as a first-line treatment option. In both trials, patients with metastatic and previously untreated non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) benefited from treatment with checkpoint blockade using the anti-PD-1 drug pembrolizumab. The results from the trials were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet

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