DCarpets called immune checkpoint inhibitors have transformed the treatment of many types of tumors, but metastatic lung cancer has proven to be more challenging: While these drugs have significantly extended the survival of some patients, most still do not respond or builds resistance quickly. Now a little proof of concept study published in Nature Medicine shows that a new form of immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own immune cells can produce long-lasting responses for some people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Patients in the small phase 1 pilot trial were treated with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), which had previously produced long-lasting remissions in studies of patients with some other cancers, but had not been previously tested in metastatic lung cancer. TILs are naturally found in solid tumors and have the ability to kill cancer cells, but the body does not make enough of them. The researchers then removed the cells from the tumors and grew billions of copies in laboratory dishes before transferring them back to patients.