Immunotherapy Gene Delivered Via Electrical Shock Shrinks Melanomas

A new immunotherapy shrank most of the melanomas treated in a clinical trial, researchers reported at the 2013 World Cutaneous Malignancies Congress. The results are from a phase II trial that included 13 people and 37 treated tumors. The treatment entailed injecting tumors with DNA containing the gene for an immune system booster called interleukin-12, and then giving the tumor an electrical shock to make it take up the engineered DNA. By 90 days after treatment, 80% of the melanomas had shrunk and nearly half had disappeared completely.

Zapping Melanomas Stimulates Uptake of Immune System Booster

Early results of a phase II clinical trial are encouraging for a new immunotherapy against melanomas. The first step is injecting the melanoma with engineered DNA that contains the gene for interleuken-12, a protein that stimulates the immune system. The next step, called electroporation, is to shock the tumor with 1,300 volts. This opens pores the melanoma cells, letting them take up the engineered DNA. The tumor then produces the immune system booster interleuken-12. In one arm of this multi-center trial, tumors have shrunk in eight of the nine people treated. And tumors often also shrank in parts of the body that weren’t directly treated. This trial is accepting new participants.