Activating T cells in tumors eliminated even distant metastases in mice, Stanford researchers found. Lymphoma patients are being recruited to test the technique in a clinical trial.

Immunotherapy is a fast growing area of cancer research. It involves developing therapies that use a patient’s own immune system to fight and kill cancer. Moffitt Cancer Center is working on a new vaccine that would help early-stage breast cancer patients who have HER2 positive disease.

The University Medical Center (UMC) of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is starting a new multi-center, Phase II clinical trial program evaluating DCVax®-L in combination with an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody (Pembrolizumab) for patients with liver metastases of primary colorectal carcinoma. The study aims to test the efficacy of dendritic cells (DC)-based therapy in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor antibody as a new approach to treat patients with synchronous or metachronous resectable liver metastases of colorectal carcinoma.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major health burden, with a world-wide estimate of 1.4 million new cases annually. CRC is one of the most common causes of cancer-related death in the western world, resulting in approximately 700,000 deaths annually. Liver metastases are found in about 50% of all these patients. 

Combination of a therapeutic vaccine (such as DCVax®-L) and a checkpoint inhibitor (such as Pembrolizumab) following resection of liver tumors is very promising to reactivate the immune system. The inherent logic of this combined approach is that the two treatments may be synergistic in mobilizing and sustaining a systemic immune response in these patients.

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.

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