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Patients' cells from tumors, the immune system merged for customized cancer therapy

One of the strongest natural allies that cancer patients can tap to help fight tumor growth and metastasis may well be their own immune systems, and scientists affiliated with the Harvard University Medical School have devised ways of bolstering patients' immune response against kidney and breast cancer.

In a paper published in the July 15 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the Harvard research team documented tumor regression in two breast cancer patients, and stabilization and containment of tumor growth in late stage breast and kidney patients through application of customized vaccinations made from the patients' own tumor and immune system cells.

By fusing patients' tumor cells with their immune system dendritic cells, researchers associated with the laboratory of Donald Kufe, M.D., professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, created customized antigen-presenting immune cells that train T cells to hunt, recognize and destroy the patients' tumor cells.

"We aimed to develop a novel vaccine that took whole tumor cells with their complete array of tumor-specific antigens and combine them with the potent immune stimulating machinery of the dendritic cells," said David Avigan, M.D., director of bone marrow transplantation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the lead author of the Clinical Cancer Research article.

The immune system develops T cells, which are white blood cells, to recognize foreign proteins, cells, and other matter that causes disease or infection. Tumor cells produce proteins, carbohydrates and other molecules that are different than the healthy cells that are normally found in the human body. The immune system can recognize cancer-related molecules, but cancer cells often are difficult for the immune system to detect. Conversely, dendritic cells are potent immune stimulating cells capable of generating the type of T Cells that attack and kill cancer
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Contact: Russell Vanderboom
vanderboom@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
15-Jul-2004


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