Effective Immunotherapy Steps Closer With New T Cell Study
In a recent study, researchers report some progress in developing an immunotherapy for ovarian cancer. However, they also outline the considerable challenges that remain before the treatment can be made effective for this and other cancers that have solid tumors.
The researchers presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. Estimates from the American Cancer Society suggest that, in the United States, around 22,440 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and approximately 14,000 will die from the disease during 2017.
The cancer begins in cells of the ovaries – reproductive glands found only in women. Each woman normally has two ovaries, situated on each side of the uterus inside the pelvis. The ovaries produce eggs that travel to the uterus through the fallopian tubes.
Dr. Kristin Anderson, an immunotherapy researcher who presented the findings at the meeting, says that while ovarian cancer is not as common in the U.S. as other cancers with solid tumors, it has a low rate of survival and a high rate of relapse. The main reason is that the cancer does not cause obvious symptoms and is often advanced by the time it is diagnosed.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new area of medicine that is showing promising results in the treatment of cancer. The approach uses the patient’s own immune system to fight disease.
The new study concerns a method called adoptive T cell transfer. In this approach, immune cells called T cells are taken from the patient’s own blood and trained to target and destroy cancer cells. Then, after multiplying in the laboratory, the primed cells are returned to the patient’s body. Sometimes donor cells are used instead.
The team hopes to start a human clinical trial of adoptive T cell transfer for ovarian cancer in the next few years.