ScienceDaily. Published online: 30 May 2016.
Image shows photomicrograph (magnification X400) of fine needle aspiration from breast in metastatic malignant melanoma.
Oncologists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have successfully treated a patient with metastatic melanoma by combining two different types of immunotherapy. Cassian Yee and colleagues describe their approach in a paper, “Combined IL-21-primed polyclonal CTL plus CTLA4 blockade controls refractory metastatic melanoma in a patient,” that will be published online May 30 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.
The researchers tested their idea on a 53-year-old patient with multiple metastases who had previously shown little response to either T cell transfers or ipilimumab treatment. The patient now received an infusion of his own antitumor T cells that had been treated with an immune signaling protein, called interleukin-21, that promotes T cell survival. Immediately afterward, the patient received a dose of ipilimumab. Within weeks, the patient’s tumors began to shrink, and they eventually disappeared completely. Yee and colleagues report that, over five years later, the patient remains disease free.
The researchers found that their combined approach boosted the number of antitumor T cells circulating in the patient’s blood in both the short and long term. Moreover, the enhanced immune response induced by this treatment allowed the patient to develop new types of T cells that attacked the melanoma in additional ways, a phenomenon known as epitope spreading.
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