Adoptive immunotherapy

The John Wayne Cancer Institute has a long-standing interest in immune therapies. One of the newest approaches being investigated is called adoptive immunotherapy. This therapy uses the immune responses patients have developed against their tumors as its source.

It is now well known that the immune systems of many patients with melanoma actually recognize and try to attack the cancer cells. Unfortunately, for patients with metastatic melanoma, these responses are inadequate and the tumors grow and spread.

In adoptive immune therapy with Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL), patient’s tumors are surgically removed and placed under culture conditions that favor the growth and activity of immune cells. Under those conditions, the TIL are able to overcome the resistance of the tumor cells and begin to grow and proliferate. These cells can then be tested against the patient’s tumor cells to make sure they are able to recognize it. Those tumor-specific cells are then amplified several hundred or thousand fold so they can be returned to the patient in very large numbers.

These cells are not only potent melanoma killers, they are the patient’s own cells and are therefore specifically tailored for each individual.

This therapy is challenging to perform because of the complexity of the process. The Therapeutic Immunology department at John Wayne Cancer Institute has developed a culture facility with clean rooms and staff who are highly trained in the necessary advanced culture techniques.

We anticipate FDA approval for our facility in the near future, which will enable us to being treating patients in the context of clinical trials. For more information, please contact the John Wayne Cancer Institute clinical trials group at 310-582-7456.