New Immunotherapy Increases Drug's Success in Melanoma, Lung Cancer

Novel treatment approach combines a new immunotherapy with stem cell transplantation.

Researchers at Mount Sinai are developing a promising new immunotherapy for treatment-resistant non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which combined with stem cell transplantation, increased the success in treating melanoma and lung cancer.

The immunotherapy, a checkpoint blockade, improved the ability of T cells to fight cancer by removing the “cloaking effect” that tumors use to hide from them, according to a press release. Checkpoint blockade therapy is typically effective in several tumor types, but generally ineffective in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The study showed that when the immunotherapy is combined with a stem cell transplant, which the researchers call "immunotransplant," the process expedites T cells to increase the cancer-killing immune response, allowing the treatment to be effective against non-Hodgkin lymphoma and more successful in melanoma and lung cancer.

The transplant makes space for re-infused T cells, or immune cells, which generate by clearing out a patient’s original immune system. While building the system back up, the cells activate and the anticancer ability of the cells become more effective, according to the study authors.

The findings have prompted the initiation of a clinical trial, which began enrolling patients in May, using the immunotransplant approach to treat patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The authors said the study findings also could lead to effective therapies for other cancer types.

The researchers added that the treatment could eventually be used to effectively treat melanoma, as well as kidney, lung, and other cancer types. The research also suggests that the addition of checkpoint blockade may improve other T-cell therapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.

Investigators based their findings on their observation of how the immune system responded to bone marrow transplants, CAR T-cell therapy, immunotherapy, and immunotransplant in patients and mouse models.

Reference

  • Mount Sinai Researchers Make Immunotherapy Work for Treatment-Resistant Lymphoma. New York, NY. Published August 2, 2019. https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2019/mount-sinai-researchers-make-immunotherapy-work-for-treatmentresistant-lymphoma. Published August 26, 2019.