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Targeted immunotherapy eradicates cancer in mice

NEW YORK, February 9, 2003 Researchers have developed a novel approach to genetically instruct human immune cells to recognize and kill cancer cells in a mouse model. The investigators plan to ultimately apply this strategy in a clinical trial setting for patients with certain forms of leukemias and lymphomas.

Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) genetically engineered an antigen receptor, introduced it into cultured human T cells, and infused the T cells in mice that bear widespread tumor cells. The modified T cells, now able to recognize the targeted antigen present on the tumor cells, eradicated the cancer.

The research will be published in the March 2003 issue of Nature Medicine and will be available on the journal's Web site on February 10. It is the first time that adoptive immunotherapy with engineered human T cells has demonstrated in vivo efficacy in mice.

"Our findings represent a step forward in the field of adoptive T cell therapy," said senior author Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Head of the Gene Transfer and Gene Expression Laboratory and Co-Director of the Gene Transfer and Somatic Cell Engineering Laboratory at MSKCC. "Our studies aim to better understand the biological needs of T cells that are targeted to tumors and may potentially be applied to a variety of cancers in the foreseeable future."

Earlier experiments have shown that genetically modified human T cells could kill tumor cells in vitro, but the cells could not successfully carry out other immunological responses such as maintaining cell division, and would die prematurely when they were infused into the body of a mouse. In this study, researchers may have overcome some of these limitations by designing a method whereby human T cells, genetically altered to recognize certain blood cancers, multiply in such a manner that they retain the ability to eliminate human tumors in vivo in mice.

Investigators g
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Contact: Esther Carver
mediastaff@mskcc.org
212-639-3573
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
9-Feb-2003


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