T-cell Changes: Why Only Some Respond to Ipilimumab

“The immunotherapy ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company) works amazingly well in some patients, hardly at all in others. A groundbreaking study that used deep sequencing techniques offers some clues as to why.

“Ipilimumab, which is marketed for melanoma but is being explored in several other cancer types, including prostate cancer, acts as a checkpoint blocker by inhibiting cytotoxic T lymphocyte– associated antigen–4 (CTLA-4).

“Immune repertoire sequencing has confirmed that blocking CTLA-4 increased turnover and diversity of the T-cell repertoire in some patients with advanced prostate cancer or metastatic melanoma, but also showed that patients who survived longest maintained clones of high-frequency T-cells they had developed before starting treatment.”

Editor’s note: Ipilimumab is a drug that boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. It works by activating immune system cells called T cells, some subtypes of which may then attack tumors. Ipilimumab works very well for some patients, but not for others. This study found that patients who had certain tumor-fighting T cell subtypes already present before ipilimumab treatment were more likely to respond well and survive longer, possibly because these cells were readily available to fight cancer upon activation. The study also found that ipilimumab may prompt the immune system to “re-shuffle” the body’s T cell subtypes, allowing patients with only a small amount of tumor-fighting T cells to generate more. (This may explain why some patients take longer to respond to ipilimumab than others; their immune systems need more time to build up the right T cells.) Based on the results, doctors may be able to monitor a patient’s T cell subtypes (“immune repertoire sequencing”) to determine whether ipilimumab will work, or to keep tabs on the effectiveness of ongoing ipilimumab treatment.


Old Cancer Drug Gets Fresh Look

“When Dave deBronkart was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in 2007, he learned about a treatment called high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) that fires up the body’s immune system to fight the disease. The response rate was not great — tumours shrank in only about 15% of patients. And as many as 4% of people died from the treatment. But some of those who responded survived for years or even decades.”

Editor’s note: IL-2 is an immunotherapy drug, meaning that it boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. It and other new immunotherapies are showing promise for patients across many different cancer types.


Old Cancer Drug Gets Fresh Look

“When Dave deBronkart was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in 2007, he learned about a treatment called high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) that fires up the body’s immune system to fight the disease. The response rate was not great — tumours shrank in only about 15% of patients. And as many as 4% of people died from the treatment. But some of those who responded survived for years or even decades.”

Editor’s note: IL-2 is an immunotherapy drug, meaning that it boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. It and other new immunotherapies are showing promise for patients across many different cancer types.


Old Cancer Drug Gets Fresh Look

“When Dave deBronkart was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in 2007, he learned about a treatment called high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) that fires up the body’s immune system to fight the disease. The response rate was not great — tumours shrank in only about 15% of patients. And as many as 4% of people died from the treatment. But some of those who responded survived for years or even decades.”

Editor’s note: IL-2 is an immunotherapy drug, meaning that it boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. It and other new immunotherapies are showing promise for patients across many different cancer types.


Patient’s Cells Deployed to Attack Aggressive Cancer

“Doctors have taken an important step toward a long-sought goal: harnessing a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“An article published Thursday in the journal Science describes the treatment of a 43-year-old woman with an advanced and deadly type of cancer that had spread from her bile duct to her liver and lungs, despite chemotherapy.

“Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream.

“The tumors began ‘melting away,’ said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.”

Editor’s note: This story is about an “immunotherapy” technique meant to boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy here.


Patient’s Cells Deployed to Attack Aggressive Cancer

“Doctors have taken an important step toward a long-sought goal: harnessing a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“An article published Thursday in the journal Science describes the treatment of a 43-year-old woman with an advanced and deadly type of cancer that had spread from her bile duct to her liver and lungs, despite chemotherapy.

“Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream.

“The tumors began ‘melting away,’ said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.”

Editor’s note: This story is about an “immunotherapy” technique meant to boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy here.


Patient’s Cells Deployed to Attack Aggressive Cancer

“Doctors have taken an important step toward a long-sought goal: harnessing a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“An article published Thursday in the journal Science describes the treatment of a 43-year-old woman with an advanced and deadly type of cancer that had spread from her bile duct to her liver and lungs, despite chemotherapy.

“Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream.

“The tumors began ‘melting away,’ said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.”

Editor’s note: This story is about an “immunotherapy” technique meant to boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy here.


Melanoma Treatment 2014: Emerging News


Immunotherapy may be patients’ biggest hope for transforming cancer treatment. This approach boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. More and more immunotherapy treatments are showing promise for more and more patients, and Science magazine named immunotherapies 2013’s Breakthrough of the Year. Continue reading…


Dendreon Says Prelim. Data from LT Phase II STAND Study Will Be Presented at EAU Congress, Will Show Immune Responses with PROVENGE Enhanced, Sustained

“Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN) today announced the presentation of preliminary data from a long-term analysis of the Phase II STAND study demonstrating that tumor-specific T-cell responses appear to be enhanced and sustained when PROVENGE^® (sipuleucel-T) is given after androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in patients with biochemically-recurrent prostate cancer (BRPC) at high risk for metastases. These data will be presented at the 29^th Annual European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress taking place from April 11-15, 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden.”

Editor’s note: This story is about a study that demonstrated positive patient responses when the cancer vaccine Provenge was given as a prostate cancer treatment after patients were first treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). The study focused on patients with biochemically-recurrent prostate cancer (BRPC) at high risk for metastasis.