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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.
Fred Hutch opens first-of-its kind Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic
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.