Patient’s immune cells shrink her cancer tumors
By Denise Grady THE NEW YORK TIMES
Doctors have taken an important step toward a long-sought goal: harnessing a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.
An article published yesterday in the journal Science describes the treatment of a 43-year-old woman with a deadly type of cancer that had spread from her bile duct to her liver and lungs despite chemotherapy.
- Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then, they grew those immune cells and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream.
The tumors began “melting away,” said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.
The woman is not cured: Her tumors are shrinking but not gone. And an experiment on one patient cannot determine whether a new treatment works. (scientific mind @ work..Jan)
- Rosenberg’s patient, Melinda Bachini, of Billings, Mont., learned in 2009 that she had bile-duct cancer and it had spread to her liver. She had surgery to remove about two-thirds of her liver, but within a few months the disease had turned up in her lungs. She went through one grueling regimen of chemotherapy, then another. Her tumors began growing again.
In March 2012, Rosenberg’s team removed tumors from her lungs to extract tumor-infiltrating T cells, then cultured the cells in a lab. A month later, more than 42 billion T cells were infused into Bachini.
But by last summer, the lung tumors were growing again.
- By then the team had sequenced the genome of her cancer, and done extensive studies on her immune system. And it had found what researchers had long hoped for: a mutation in the cancer that was unique to it and not found in normal cells, and a type of T cell that would attack the mutation.
Again, the team cultured Bachini’s T cells. In October, she received more than 120 billion T cells, 95 percent of which were the highly specific ones.
Her tumors quickly began shrinking and have continued to do so for the past six months, Rosenberg said.
Bachini said she was grateful for every day. “I pretty much can do anything I want,” she said.
Rosenberg said the team has identified unique mutations and T cells ready to attack them in three of four other patients with cancers in the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment plans are underway.
This appears to be absolutely spectacular AND the direction in which “science” should be probing. Ms. Bachini’s story presented herein, demonstrates how ineffectual the standard, traditional treatment of chemotherapy along with surgery has proved to be. Further assault on a sick and wounded body can never help it.
Dr Rosenberg’s theory and treatment of working “with the body rather than against it” is apparently at least a part of the magic here. The body could accept this as it was familiar to it!
Bravo Dr Rosenberg and National Cancer Institute! B R A V O ! . Jan)