Potential New Immunotherapy For Melanoma

Potential New Immunotherapy For Melanoma

In a new study entitled “T Cells Derived From Human Melanoma Draining Lymph Nodes Mediate Melanoma-specific Antitumor Responses In Vitro and In Vivo in Human Melanoma Xenograft Model” researcher’s at the UH Seidman Cancer Center established a protocol where they retrieved T cells from lymph nodes of melanoma patients and proceeded to their expansion and activation in vitro. The team observed that these cells have the potential to induce a strong immune response against melanoma, once reintroduced back into patients. A new clinical trial is already undergoing to validate these preliminary findings that may result into a new immunotherapy for melanoma. The study was published in the Journal of Immunotherapy.

Julian Kim, MD, Chief Medical Officer at UH Seidman Cancer Center and study lead author noted, “This study is unique in that the source of T cells for therapy is derived from the lymph node, which is the natural site of the immune response against pathogens as well as cancer. These encouraging results provide the rationale to start testing the transfer of activated T cells in a human clinical trial.”

The team developed a new method where melanoma patients undergoing routine lymph node dissection had their T cells cultured for a period of 2 weeks with an activating-T cell factor. Cultivating the newly activated T cells with cancer cells, in vitro, led to targeted death of cancer cells. Moreover, when introducing these activated T cells into mice bearing human melanoma they observed an improvement in the animals’ overall survival.

These findings already prompted a new clinical trial in UH Seidman Cancer Center with human advanced melanoma patients, as Dr. Kim explained, “The infusion of activated T cells has demonstrated promising results and is an area of great potential for the treatment of patients with cancer. We are really excited that our method of activating and expanding T cells is practical and may be ideal for widespread use. Our goal is to eventually combine these T cells with other immune therapies, which will result in cures. These types of clinical trials place the UH Seidman Cancer Center at the forefront of immune therapy of cancer.”

The team is now validating their findings in other types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, colorectal and breast cancers.