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Immunotherapy for Treatment Resistant Lymphoma

Published: 2019-08-05 |

Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital & School of Medicine

Mount Sinai researchers have developed a way to use immunotherapy drugs against treatment-resistant non-Hodgkin's lymphomas for the first time by combining them with stem cell transplantation, an approach that also dramatically increased the success of the drugs in melanoma and lung cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Discovery in August.

This type of immunotherapy, called "checkpoint blockade," ramps up the ability of immune cells called T-cells to fight cancer by removing the "cloaking effect" that tumors use the hide from them. Checkpoint blockade therapy is effective in several tumor types, but generally ineffective in non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. However, the study found that when this immunotherapy is combined with stem cell transplant, which the researchers call "immunotransplant." the process ramps up the T-cells to increase the cancer-killing immune response tenfold, allowing it to be effective for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The transplant works by "making space" for infused immune cells (T-cells) to proliferate by clearing out a patient's original immune system. While they are proliferating and building the immune system back up, they become activated, and the anti-tumor T-cells' anticancer effect becomes stronger.

The findings have prompted the initiation of a clinical trial using the immunotransplant approach to treat patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which began enrolling patients in May.

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