Adoptive Cell Transfer Shows Dramatic Results in Refractory Melanoma
A study in the April 2005 Journal of Clinical Oncology, from the lab of Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surgery Branch, reports promising results of adoptive cell transfer (ACT) immunotherapy among 35 patients with metastatic melanoma. ACT is an innovative biological therapy developed by NCI researchers which has been shown to shrink solid tumors that have resisted other treatments. Of that cohort, 3 experienced a complete response and 15 had a partial response lasting from 2 months to 2 years - a response rate of 51 percent. Thirteen of the 18 who responded had cancers resistant to chemotherapy and 34 of the 35 patients had been resistant to high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy. The study provides clinical confirmation of Dr. Rosenberg's previous cancer immunotherapy study published in Science in 2002. That study showed an effect from treatment on tumors in 6 out of 13 patients - a response rate of 43 percent.
These and other studies are laying the foundation for biological therapies that use the body's immune system, directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects of other treatments. Dr. Rosenberg says the field was jump-started 20 years ago by the discovery that IL-2 cytokines - which can also be made in the lab - could shrink established, metastatic solid tumors. Since then, researchers have identified dozens of antigens on the surface of certain cancer cells that the body's immune system recognizes and attacks as intruders. Immunotherapeutic vaccines are being studied that would use these features to target exclusively the cancer cells for elimination. "Although cancer vaccines have yet to prove effective," Dr. Rosenberg said, "much work on that front is ongoing." Read more
The Global Impact of 2015
During a recent trip to Italy, I visited a university in the Calabria region, the Magna Graecia University in the city of Catanzaro. Italy, of course, is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and spectacular landscapes. But I came away from my visit even more impressed by this university's keen commitment to biomedical research and advanced technologies and their enthusiasm for the NCI goal to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer.
Magna Graecia was only officially established as an independent university in 1998. But under the guidance of respected scientists and leaders, it has quickly become a leading research institution, including a major commitment to interdisciplinary research and technology development, particularly in the areas of proteomics and nanotechnology. Its president, Dr. Salvatore Venuta, is a highly respected cancer researcher who was educated and trained in Italy and at top-flight U.S. academic institutions and cancer centers. Read more