Combination Immunotherapy for Metastatic Melanoma Shows Success

Immunotherapy combination increased T cell activity in the blood and the patient went into remission.

A patient with metastatic melanoma has been successfully treated by using 2 types of immunotherapy.

According to a study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, isolating pure populations of the patient’s melanoma targeting T cells and transfering them back to the patient is a method that can treat melanoma. The other treatment approach is treating patients with ipilimumab, which is an antibody that can activate a patient’s T cells by blocking the protein CTLA4.

Neither treatment typically sends patients into complete remission.

Researchers in the study tested a combination of both treatments on a 53-year-old patient who had multiple metastases that showed little response to T cell transfers and ipilimumab treatment.

The patient received his own antitumor T cells that were treated with an immune signaling protein that promotes T cell survival, and immediately afterwards received ipilimumab. Researchers found that the tumors began to shrink within weeks of the treatment and disappeared in time. Over 5 years later, the patient is still in remission.

Researchers discovered that the combination therapy increased the number of antitumor T cells in the patient’s blood in the short and long term.

According to the study, the increased immune response allowed the patient to develop new types of T cells to attack the cancer.

"Combining CTLA4 blockade with the transfer of well-characterized, robust antitumor T cells represents an encouraging strategy to enhance the activity of the adoptively transferred T cells and induce antitumor responses," concluded Dr Yee. "This strategy may hold broad promise for ipilimumab-resistant melanomas."