Immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) drugs, such as the PD-1inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab, have provided unprecedented survival to patients in many types of cancer in recent years and are used for late-stage cancer treatment worldwide. Unfortunately, many patients who responded well to initial treatments gradually developed drug resistance, which resumed cancer progression.
Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy is a new type of immunotherapy. Unlike the antibody-based ICI drugs, TIL therapy is a cell-based therapy that uses a particular group of immune T-cells obtained from a patient’s own tumor tissues to treat their cancers.
The Clinical Trial on TIL Therapy
As TIL therapy has demonstrated its effectiveness in treating melanoma and other malignancies, oncologists at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Florida are conducting a phase 1 clinical trial to see if combining the TIL therapy with the ICI drug nivolumab could help address the drug resistance problem for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The clinical trial involved those patients who had developed initial progression under the monotherapy of PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab. Special immune T-cells were taken from patient’s tissues that were surgically removed from their tumors. These T-cells were grown to very large numbers (up to billions) in the laboratory and then infused back into the patients to let them seek and attack cancer cells inside their bodies.
Encouraging Results of the Clinical Trial
In early August 2021, very encouraging clinical trial results were published in the elite research journal Nature Medicine. Among the 13 evaluable patients, 11 had about a 35% reduction in tumor size (measured by “median best change”). Furthermore, two patients achieved durable complete responses that were ongoing 1.5 years later. From these results, the researchers believe that TIL therapy is generally safe and could be a promising new treatment option for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
New Hope for Lung Cancer Patients
Additional data will be obtained from this clinical trial and analyzed by the team at Moffitt Cancer Center. We look forward to seeing more positive results soon, which will bring more good news and new hope to lung cancer patients.
To learn more about TIL therapy, watch our video with a real-life testimonial from a late-stage cancer patient here.
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Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte treatment for anti-PD-1-resistant metastatic lung cancer: a phase 1 trial. Nature Medicine, August 12, 2021.