Following the discovery and promising results of a new type of immunotherapy for skin cancer malignant melanoma, three seriously ill patients are now long-term survivors. The discovery is a result of research carried out by researchers at Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet.
“Clinically, immunotherapy involves activation of the own immune defense of the body to eliminate cancer cells. Meanwhile, with the introduction of treatment involving immune-activating antibodies – immunotherapy attained substantial progress. Immunotherapy increases the survival of patients with advanced melanoma,” said the lead investigator of the study.
However, most of the patients with advanced stage of malignant melanoma are not responsive of this or other types of treatment. The research team treated this group involving a combination of two types of immunotherapy.
New Treatment involves multiplying TIL Cells in Laboratory Environment
For the therapy, T-cells – a special kind of white blood cells are extracted from the patient’s tumor. Meanwhile, TIL cells are an important element of the immune defense of the body against cancer. In a laboratory environment, the TIL cells are multiplied up to 50 billion in number and are given back to the patient combined with Interleukin-2, a growth factor.
This study is unique compared to previous other international clinical trials with TIL cells in certain ways. Using this therapy, it involves treating patients with several doses of a tumor vaccine comprising dendritic cells (DC) – specializing in activating the immune system and giving an extra boost to the injected TIL cells.
Of the four seriously ill patients who received the combination treatment of TIL cells and DC tumor cells for malignant melanoma, three were responsive with complete or near complete remission suspension of the cancer.