Gene therapy as a treatment for cancer has advanced from the theoretical to the possible: in a pilot study published in August in the journal Science, investigators reported that two of 17 patients with advanced melanoma responded to a treatment known as genetically engineered therapy.
Genetically engineered gene therapy uses autologous T-cells that are extracted and cultured and treated with cytokines. Therefore, when they are reimplanted, they can activate the immune system.
In a study led by Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., investigators harvested one patient’s T-cells and genetically isolated the T-cell receptor so that it would be specific to melanoma. They then removed T-cells from 17 melanoma patients and genetically spliced in the one patient’s tumor-specific receptors. Finally, they cultured those cells and transfused them into the patients. Among these patients, the investigators documented “dramatic and durable regression” of the tumors in two patients.| | | Next → | Single Page