Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes Show Promise as Treatment for Metastatic Cancer

According to a story from Healio, data from two studies testing autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) as a treatment for advanced, metastatic cervical cancer and melanoma suggests that this treatment method could be a useful addition to the cancer fighting arsenal. These trial results were presented at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting. These therapies are currently being developed by Iovance Biotherapeutics.

About Melanoma

Melanoma is not a rare cancer. It appears in cells called melanocytes, which contain pigment. Melanoma most commonly occurs on the skin, but can also appear in eyes, intestines, or mouth much more rarely. It is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but it can usually be cured if it is still localized. Treatment usually consists of surgical removal at this stage; in advanced disease, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapies may be used, but the five year survival rate is only 25 percent when metastasis begins.

About Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer arising from the cervix and also is not considered rare. Infection with the HPV virus is implicated in the majority of cases, but most people with the virus will not get cervical cancer. The survival rates of cervical cancer have been improving in the US thanks to screening for the disease, which has allowed for earlier diagnosis. Treatment often includes surgery or radiation therapy. The five year survival rate is 68 percent in the US.

Fighting Metastatic Cancer

Metastasis, or the spreading of cancer from the tissue of its origin, is always a sign of disease progression and almost always makes the successful treatment of cancer much more difficult. Therefore, therapies that show good efficacy in advanced, metastatic cancer are always exceptionally valuable for improving survival. 

The study demonstrated that tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were capable of a 38 percent overall response rate for melanoma and a 44 percent response rate for cervical cancer. The tumor infiltrating lymphocyte approach involves surgically removing a section of the patient’s tumor, isolating the lymphocytes from it, and then propagating them in the lab setting. This process currently takes 22 days to complete.

The researchers hopes that TIL therapy could prove to be a useful approach to treating solid tumor cancers, an area where CAR-T cell therapies, which are somewhat similar in concept, have failed so far.

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