From the huge discovery of Cancer therapy by American and Japanese immunologists: James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo who were awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research, research remains relentless in the cancer cure domain of health science and medicine.
The recent publication in Nature by National Cancer Institute researchers have described a novel immunotherapy approach which showed nil tumor presence in an advanced metastatic breast cancer surviving patient who just 2 months to live. The research work mentioned that the naturally-occurring tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) were extracted from the patient's tumor, grown outside of her body in larger numbers and injected back into the patient to tackle the cancer. While the TILs are grown externally patient is treated with PD-1 blocking, immunotherapy agent Keytruda to modify the immune system so that other immune cells wouldn’t interfere with the TILs upon injection into patient.
This novel approach of immunotherapy involves 2 steps first being Sequencing DNA of the tumor cells and second being the TILs extraction, analysis, growth and injection. The TILs will be analyzed for their ability to recognize and target the mutated proteins on the tumor. Researchers have been enthusiastic about applying TILs for treatment of common epithelial cancers which include those of the colon, rectum, pancreas, breast and lung. Rosenberg, one of the researchers claimed that: “These treatments have the potential to treat patients with any cancer”. Though this immunotherapy approach for personalized cancer treatment seems promising and better compared to radiotherapy and chemotherapy the only worry is the resistance.
Cancers often develop resistance to treatments and the resistant cancer cells may have different mutations than the original tumor. Picking TILs that target just a single or small number of mutated proteins on the tumor may increase probability of cancer resistance. Identification of which mutations on cancer cells are possible targets for TILs must be researched. Hence more funding and trials is to be considered. Industries often shy away due to the expenses and the market but there are some companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Iovance Biotherapeutics who are up for the risk and specifically focus on TILs.
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