Tags: Cancer | blood | cancer | immunotherapy | leukemia | AML

Immune Drug Keeps Leukemia in Remission

Immune Drug Keeps Leukemia in Remission

(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Wednesday, 07 December 2016 05:13 PM

The preliminary trial of an experimental immunotherapy drug finds it has kept high-risk leukemia patients in remission for more than two years, a new study finds.

This study, conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., looked at 12 high-risk patients that had undergone bone marrow transplants.

The patients had acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). About 20,800 of the estimated 60,000 people diagnosed with leukemia each year have this type of blood cancer.

The majority of people diagnosed with AML are 65 years old or older.

This study was the first to use genetically engineered immune cells, the researchers say.

The body’s immune system is designed to recognize cancer cells and destroy them, but when people have malignant cancer, this mechanism goes awry. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the immune system so that it can do its job.

In the study, certain T cells from each patient's transplant donor were genetically engineered to produce receptors that allowed the T cells to recognize, very specifically, a target molecule called WT1.

WT1 is 10 to 1,000 times more times more common in leukemia cells than their noncancerous cousins, making it a natural target for therapies designed to destroy cancer cells while leaving most healthy cells alone.

Because it was the first study of this particular approach, the researchers focused on a high-risk group   – AML patients undergoing bone marrow transplant who had certain genetic or disease characteristics that decrease the chance of long-term transplant success -- "a hard population of patients, many of whom were horribly sick," says Dr. Aude Chapuis, one of the study's leaders.

Of the 12 AML patients who received this experimental T-cell therapy after a transplant put their disease in remission, all are still in remission after a median follow-up of more than two years, the study shows.

Giving these cells when disease is in remission after transplant "might actually be helping patients who have a high risk of relapsing to not relapse down the line," says Chapuis, who presented these results at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego, Calif.


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A new immune drug has shown promise in keeping patients with a dangerous form of leukemia in remission.
blood, cancer, immunotherapy, leukemia, AML
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 05:13 PM
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