View Full Version : Genetically Altered Immune Cells Shrink Cancer Tumors (Update4)

09-04-2006, 03:21 AM
Scientists for the first time have successfully used gene therapy to fight cancer, altering the body's immune system so it would attack and destroy the deadliest skin tumors.

Two of 17 patients with advanced melanoma treated in a study were free of cancer more than 18 months after therapy began, says a report posted today on the online edition of the journal Science. About 8,000 people in the U.S. will die from melanoma this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Given all the hype of gene therapy over the years, this is one of the first that has the potential to be applied to common cancers,'' said Steven A. Rosenberg, the lead researcher and chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, in a telephone interview yesterday.


Rosenberg and colleagues at the Bethesda, Maryland-based institute took infection-fighting white blood cells called T- cells from the patients and modified them so they would produce a protein receptor that helped them latch onto the tumors. The protein, known as a T-cell receptor, then activated the white blood cells to kill the cancer.


``We now have receptors that are 10 to 100 times more powerful that I think will result in a much higher incidence of response,'' Rosenberg said. The researcher said he hopes to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to test the new receptors within the next month or so.


One difficulty faced by researchers going forward is identifying T-cells in other types of cancer that can attack tumors. But Rosenberg said his team has demonstrated ways to engineer similar immune cells that may affect development of more common tumors such as breast, lung and liver cancer.

For now, Rosenberg's team is now looking for ways to enhance the current therapy so larger numbers of the modified T cells can survive and continue expressing their receptor genes.

In addition to reversing tumor growth, a key objective of the experiment was to demonstrate that these genetically modified T cells could be maintained at effective levels in the human body to be effective, Rosenberg said.

More .. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=aIdZWg849KNo&refer=canada

This is truly great news.