With rapid progress in the field of immunology over the past decade, the dream of being able to harness the human body’s immune system for the treatment of hematological cancers is becoming a reality. In a recent report following the meeting at the John Theurer Cancer Center in New Jersey on June 7th, entitled “Cell therapy and Interventional Immunology; Current developments and Implications” promising results from Dr. Catherine Bollards’ group from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas were highlighted.
Dr. Catherine Bollard, a member of the Center for Cell and Gene therapy, has been studying the efficacy of tumor-specific CTLs in patients with relapsed EBV positive Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. In a preliminary study, it was shown that out of 21 patients in receiving T cell therapy alone, 13 showed a positive clinical response, with a progression free survival rate at 2 years of 50%. This study, which was carried out on patients who had not received previous chemotherapy or treatments showed significant promise for the continued development of this style of T cell targeted therapy.
Discussing the merits of T cell therapy over traditional methods of treatment, Dr. Bollard highlighted that, although the 3-year progression survival rate is reported to be 80% following treatment with bone marrow transplant, and aggressive chemotherapy or radiation, patients suffer needlessly, often dying from treatment-related complications, Dr. Bollard suggested that targeted T cell therapy should be employed more readily — at the early stage of treatment — and not as a last resort when other more aggressive therapies have failed.
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