Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are a type of white blood cell found in tumors. TILs are implicated in killing tumor cells, and the presence of lymphocytes in tumors is often associated with better clinical outcomes.
Adoptive cell transfer therapy
The use of TILs as an adoptive cell transfer therapy to treat cancer has been pioneered by Dr. Steven Rosenberg at the National Cancer Institute. Autologous lymphocytes are isolated from patients’ tumors and grown to very large numbers of cells in vitro. Prior to TIL treatment, patients are given nonmyeloablative chemotherapy to deplete native lymphocytes that can suppress tumor killing. Once lymphodepletion is completed, patients are then infused with TILs in combination with interleukin 2 (IL-2). Lion Biotechnologies is currently developing adoptive cell transfer with TILs for the treatment of cancer.
Several clinical trials have been conducted using TILs to treat patients with metastatic melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. Tumor reduction of 50% or more was observed in about half of melanoma patients treated with TILs. Some patients experienced complete responses with no detectable tumor remaining years after TIL treatment.
Clinical trials using TILs to treat digestive tract cancers, such as colorectal cancer, and cancers associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV), such as cervical cancer, are ongoing. Scientists are also investigating whether TILs can be used to treat other tumors, including lung, ovarian, bladder, and breast.
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- Clinical trial number NCT01174121 for "A Phase II Study Using Short-Term Cultured, CD8+-Enriched Autologous Tumor-infiltrating Lymphocytes Following a Lymphocyte Depleting Regimen in Metastatic Digestive Tract Cancers" at ClinicalTrials.gov
- Clinical trial number NCT01585428 for "A Phase II Study of Lymphodepletion Followed by Autologous Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes and High-Dose Adesleukin for Human Papillomavirus-Associated Cancers" at ClinicalTrials.gov