Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

News on Immunotherapy

01.03.2013
Some T cells of the immune system are natural enemies of cancer cells. How they are prepared for their deployment in the organism appears to be very decisive in determining their effectiveness in cancer treatment.
Many T cells of the immune system have the general ability to identify and destroy tumor cells. For this reason, medical scientists are trying to use the powers of T cells in cancer treatment. Many research institutions worldwide are working on such immunotherapies and the University of Würzburg also has some projects in this field.

Matthias Wölfl, senior physician at the Department of Pediatrics of the University Hospital, is one of the Würzburg T cell experts. Working as a postdoctoral researcher in the USA, he participated until 2007 in a project that explored the use of T cells against leukemia. The promising results of the project are now published in the prestigious journal "Science Translational Medicine".

Activate and multiply T cells

What has been done in the project in the United States? "Every human organism possesses so-called WT1-reactive T cells with the ability to fight certain types of leukemia," Wölfl explains. Unfortunately, these cells exist in the body only in minute quantities: Among a million T cells, you will find no more than ten of the desired candidates.

Therefore, they must first be "fished" out of the blood and activated in the laboratory so that they divide and multiply if they are to be used for treatment. After a process of two months' duration, there are finally enough T cells available for preparing a highly concentrated infusion for the patients.

Surprise after 15 years of work

For a period of three years, Wölfl was involved in this major project of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. In total, however, the results published now are based on 15 years of research. And there is a surprise in store: "The way in which the T cells are activated in the laboratory appears to play quite a decisive role in determining their therapeutic effect," says Wölfl.

What the researchers found out: If the T cells come into contact with the messenger substance interleukin 21 during their activation, they are far more durable later on, which prolongs their activity against cancer. They could be detected in the blood of the patients for up to one year. If the interleukin was missing during activation, by contrast, they vanished after less than four weeks.

Patients with a high risk of relapse

The T cells were tested in eleven adult patients in the USA. All of them had already undergone the usual leukemia treatments and they started out in a difficult situation: All of them had previously even received stem cell transplants and they all had a high risk of relapse.

"Under these conditions, it is already a success that the treatment had an effect on the malignant cells in some of the patients. Three patients even survived for longer than two years free of leukemia," says Wölfl.
Only eleven patients and no control group? "The study was set up as a phase I/II trial, which is at the start of any drug development. The efficacy issue should not be raised at this point, because you need far more patients undergoing such treatment in order to decide on its effectiveness," Wölfl explains. Nevertheless, the study yields valuable insights about the biological behavior of the T cells and their application safety. Furthermore, it shows that this type of immunotherapy represents a promising approach for successful treatments.

Additional element of cancer treatment

"Generally, T cells cannot be more than an additional element of cancer treatment," Wölfl points out. Their application should be considered for patients in whom the number of cancer cells has been drastically reduced by conventional treatment: "Immunotherapy works best in such a situation."

Immunotherapy of brain tumors

At the Department of Pediatrics of the University Hospital of Würzburg, Matthias Wölfl also studies immunotherapy with T cells. In cooperation with Professor Paul Gerhardt Schlegel and Professor Matthias Eyrich, he investigates how T cells should be activated and primed so that they increase the survival chances of children and adolescents with malignant brain tumors (glioblastomas).

The project partners are still in the middle of their work and patients cannot yet be treated with the method. This therapeutic approach is also intended to provide only a supplement to conventional treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy). The method should by no means be construed as a new "silver bullet" for brain tumors, Wölfl advises.

The brain tumor project is supported by the Bavarian Research Network BayImmuNet and receives substantial funds from a registered society of parents committed to helping children affected by leukemia and other tumors by the name of "Elterninitiative Aktion Regenbogen für leukämie- und tumorkranke Kinder Main-Tauber e.V.".

Contact person

PD Dr. Matthias Wölfl, University Hospital of Würzburg, Department of Pediatrics, T (0931) 201-27114, woelfl_m@klinik.uni-wuerzburg.de
Ergänzung vom 28.02.2013
„Transferred WT1-Reactive CD8+ T Cells Can Mediate Antileukemic Activity and Persist in Post-Transplant Patients”, Aude G. Chapuis, Gunnar B. Ragnarsson, Hieu N. Nguyen, Colette N. Chaney, Jeffrey S. Pufnock, Thomas M. Schmitt, Natalie Duerkopp, Ilana M. Roberts, Galina L. Pogosov, William Y. Ho, Sebastian Ochsenreither, Matthias Wölfl, Merav Bar, Jerald P. Radich, Cassian Yee, and Philip D. Greenberg, Science Translational Medicine, 27. Februar 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 174, p. 174ra27, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004916

Robert Emmerich | Uni Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>