Modified "Serial Killer" T Cells Obliterate Lymphocytic Leukemia Tumors, Penn Researchers Report

facebook twitter google print email
Media Contact:Holly Auer | holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-5659August 11, 2011

(PHILADELPHIA) -- In a cancer treatment breakthrough 20 years in the making, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and Perelman School of Medicine have shown sustained remissions of up to a year among a small group of advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The protocol, which involves removing patients' cells and modifying them in Penn's vaccine production facility, then infusing the new cells back into the patient's body following chemotherapy, provides a tumor-attack roadmap for the treatment of other cancers including those of the lung and ovaries and myeloma and melanoma. The findings, published simultaneously today in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, are the first demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to create "serial killer" T cells aimed at cancerous tumors.

"Within three weeks, the tumors had been blown away, in a way that was much more violent than we ever expected," said senior author Carl June, MD, director of Translational Research and a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Abramson Cancer Center, who led the work. "It worked much better than we thought it would."

Click here to view the full release.

Multimedia