ATLANTA (AP) – A treatment that helps the immune system fight deadly blood cancers is showing early signs of promise against some solid tumors, giving hope that this approach could be extended to more common cancer in the future.
The Treatment, called CAR-T therapy, involves genetically modifying some of the patient's own cells to help them recognize and attack cancer. Richard Carlstrand of Long Key, Florida, had had it more than a year ago for mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs.
"We were going to the unknown territories" to try this, he said, but now he shows from the sign of cancer and "I could not be happier."
The first CAR-T therapies were approved in 201
But that approach does not work well if cells need to Traveling far through the bloodstream to get tumors in the lung, breast, colon, or other places.
"Solid tumors are notorious for not letting the immune cells enter," and may not have enough effect, said Dr. Prasad Adusumilli of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York
A bigger worry is that the proteins are solid tumor cells that these therapies target also are found on normal cells at lower levels, so the therapy may also harm them. 19659002] Adusumilli helped design a new CAR-T to try to avoid these problems and tested it for 19 patients with mesothelioma and two others with lung and breast cancer, respectively, which had spread to the chest lining. About 150,000 patients in the U.S. each year face this situation.
The modified cells were injected directly into the chest where the tumors were. After the therapy, one patient was able to have surgery and radiation, and it does well 20 months later without further treatment. Fifteen others were well enough to start a drug that boosts the immune system in a different way.
Eleven of the 15 have been studied for a long time to report the results. Two had signs of cancer disappear for about a year, although one later relapsed. Six saw their tumors shrink. Three saw their cancer worsen.
There were no serious side effects although some patients had temporarily low blood counts and fatigue.
Grants from the federal government and foundations paid for the work and a larger study is planned. Sloan Kettering has licensed the treatment to Atara Biotherapeutics and may receive payments from it, as may Adusumilli.
A second study has tested a different CAR-T therapy in 10 children and adults with advanced sarcomas, a cancer that originates in various soft tissues or bones Unlike other CAR-TSs that are usually given just once, this one was given multiple times, up to 15 in one patient's case, if there were signs it was helping.
"From a single blood draw we make a large amount of the CAR-T cells and then we freeze them and give them through IV as needed, said Dr. Shoba Navai of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston
Two of the 10 patients had all signs of cancer disappearing, one for 17 months, and the other for almost three years, so far. Three others had their disease stabilized. Five worsened despite treatment.
Side effects were similar to the other study. The therapy seems safe "and we have early signs that this treatment approach can help," Navai said.
Several foundations and charities paid for the work.
"These studies are showing that there may be a path forward in solid tumors "With CAR-T therapies, said Dr. Louis Weiner, director of the Georgetown Lombard Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of the conference leaders. He said he could promise some cancers of the stomach, breast, colon, lung and other areas.
Cost is a big issue – current CAR-T therapies are around $ 400,000 but can be made for far less than that in research centers. Doctors say they hope the cost will come down as more come on the market and find their way to more wide use.
Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP
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