Using adoptive cell transfer to treat advanced cancer



Approximately 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and one third of those will die from the disease within five years External link. In particular, patients with advanced, metastatic cancer face limited treatment options and low survival rates. Immunotherapy—the use of the patient’s own immune system to fight disease—may prove to be a new option.


IRP researcher Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues pioneered the use of adoptive cell transfer, an immunotherapy treatment in which infiltrating immune cells are removed from a tumor, activated in vitro, and then returned to the patient.


This approach has led to the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanomas, sarcomas, and lymphomas, in many cases resulting in long-term survival for people with complex and often refractive tumor types. Furthermore, these advances have helped to launch the field of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer and chronic infection.


Rosenberg SA, Yang JC, Sherry RM, Kammula US, Hughes MS, Phan GQ, Citrin DE, Restifo NP, Robbins PF, Wunderlich JR, Morton KE, Laurencot CM, Steinberg SM, White DE, Dudley ME. (2011). Durable complete responses in heavily pretreated patients with metastatic melanoma using T-cell transfer immunotherapy. Clin Cancer Res. 17(13), 4550-7.

Morgan RA, Dudley ME, Wunderlich JR, Hughes MS, Yang JC, Sherry RM, Royal RE, Topalian SL, Kammula US, Restifo NP, Zheng Z, Nahvi A, de Vries CR, Rogers-Freezer LJ, Mavroukakis SA, Rosenberg SA. (2006). Cancer regression in patients after transfer of genetically engineered lymphocytes. Science. 314(5796), 126-9.

Dudley ME, Wunderlich JR, Robbins PF, Yang JC, Hwu P, Schwartzentruber DJ, Topalian SL, Sherry R, Restifo NP, Hubicki AM, Robinson MR, Raffeld M, Duray P, Seipp CA, Rogers-Freezer L, Morton KE, Mavroukakis SA, White DE, Rosenberg SA. (2002). Cancer regression and autoimmunity in patients after clonal repopulation with antitumor lymphocytes. Science. 298(5594), 850-4.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 8, 2023