Patient's Immune System Eradicates Melanoma

Autologous T cells against melanoma antigen eliminated disease in 52-year-old man

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- A patient's own T cells primed against a melanoma antigen can eradicate metastatic melanoma with no evidence of toxicity, according to a case report published in the June 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Naomi N. Hunder, M.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues describe the case of a 52-year-old man with recurrent and refractory melanoma, and pulmonary and left iliac and inguinal metastases. CD4+ T cells specific for a melanoma antigen NY-ESO-1 peptide were isolated from peripheral blood and expanded, and 3.3 billion of these cells were infused back into the patient.

The researchers found that after two months, imaging revealed that pulmonary and nodal disease completely disappeared, with no evidence of disease. After two years, the patient remained disease-free with no evidence of toxicity. Only 50 to 75 percent of the tumor cells had expressed NY-ESO-1, the authors note.

The report "underscores the remarkable potential of the immune system to eradicate cancer, even when the disease is widespread," Louis M. Weiner, M.D., from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., writes in an accompanying perspective.

Weiner reports a relationship with Amgen and Eisai Research Institute.

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