Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes

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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.[1][2]

Adoptive cell transfer therapy[edit]

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.[3][4][5][6] Some patients experienced complete responses with no detectable tumor remaining years after TIL treatment.[7]

Other cancers[edit]

Clinical trials using TILs to treat digestive tract cancers, such as colorectal cancer,[8] and cancers associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV), such as cervical cancer,[9] are ongoing. Scientists are also investigating whether TILs can be used to treat other tumors, including lung, ovarian, bladder, and breast.


  1. ^ Vánky F, et al. Lysis of autologous tumor cells by blood lymphocytes tested at the time of surgery. Correlation with the postsurgical clinical course. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 1986;21(1):69-76.
  2. ^ Zhang L, et al. Intratumoral T cells, recurrence, and survival in epithelial ovarian cancer. N Engl J Med. 2003 Jan 16;348(3):203-13.
  3. ^ Dudley ME, et al. Adoptive cell therapy for patients with metastatic melanoma: evaluation of intensive myeloablative chemoradiation preparative regimens. J Clin Oncol. 2008 Nov 10;26(32):5233-9.
  4. ^ Radvanyi LG, et al. Specific lymphocyte subsets predict response to adoptive cell therapy using expanded autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in metastatic melanoma patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Dec 15;18(24):6758-70.
  5. ^ Pilon-Thomas S, et al. Efficacy of adoptive cell transfer of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes after lymphopenia induction for metastatic melanoma. J Immunother. 2012 Oct;35(8):615-20.
  6. ^ Besser MJ, et al. Clinical responses in a phase II study using adoptive transfer of short-term cultured tumor infiltration lymphocytes in metastatic melanoma patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2010 May 1;16(9):2646-55.
  7. ^ Rosenberg SA, et al. Durable complete responses in heavily pretreated patients with metastatic melanoma using T-cell transfer immunotherapy. Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Jul 1;17(13):4550-7.
  8. ^ A Phase II Study Using Short-Term Cultured, CD8+-Enriched Autologous Tumor-infiltrating Lymphocytes Following a Lymphocyte Depleting Regimen in Metastatic Digestive Tract Cancers
  9. ^ A Phase II Study of Lymphodepletion Followed by Autologous Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes and High-Dose Adesleukin for Human Papillomavirus-Associated Cancers

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