Immunotherapy treatment leads to complete resolution of metastatic breast cancer

A June 4, 2018 press release from NCI (National Cancer Institute) describes a novel approach to immunotherapy that may apply to all cancer types in the future. Steven A. Rosenberg MD, PhD, chief of Surgery Branch at NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR), published findings in June 4, 2018 Nature Medicine. The new approach is a modified form of adoptive cell transfer (ACT), which has been effective in treating melanoma, a form of cancer with high levels of somatic or acquired mutations. The new approach has been less effective with epithelial cancers or those starting in the lining of organs, that have lower levels of mutations, such as stomach esophageal, ovarian and breast cancers. However, in phase 2 of human trials, the investigators developed a form of ACT that uses tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) that target tumor cell mutations common in epithelial cancers. The selected TILs are grown to large numbers in the laboratory and infused into the patient to create a stronger immune response against the tumor. A patient with metastatic breast cancer came to trial after receiving multiple failed treatments, including chemotherapy and hormonal. After the new immunotherapy treatment this patient’s cancer disappeared and has not returned for more than 22 months.