New Immunotherapy Had Positive Results In Cancer Patients After Other Treatments Failed

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A new immunotherapy method with certain types of blood cancer has shown potential outcomes on a small research study. These clinical participants had tried all other treatment options.

MD Anderson Cancer Center

In fact, researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center published their findings in the “New England Journal of Medicine” . Researchers used natural killer (NK) cells. These NK cells ae trained to go after a protein cell, called “CD19” , located in B-lymphoblasts.

These cells have the potential to become malignant, and are responsible for starting multiple kinds of cancer.

Moreover, this research study examined 11 patients being treated for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CCL) or Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), with a response rate of 73%. Out of the 8 people who replied, 7 kept a consistent reply for 1 year after beginning treatment.

Study Lead

Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph. D., is the lead author of the paper and professor of Stem Cell Transplantation & Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson. She stated that every patient had exhausted ALL treatment options. She also stated that from the outcomes of the trial, that the findings show encouraging news.

In addition, it will lead to more new clinical trials, to closely examine allogeneic cord blood-derived CAR NK, as a possible treatment method for patients that need it the most.

CAR T-cell

Indeed, the majority of regenerative medicine therapies utilize a specific type of “modified immune” CAR T-cell. These experiments show potential on certain types of blood cancer. However, the study obtains results without many disappointments, showing side effects with some patients.

Of utmost importance, researchers used NK in patients from the recent study, extracted from umbilical cord blood donations.

Furthermore, the majority of CAR T-cell therapies depend on a laborious and costly process of obtaining T-cells directly from the patients. The research team changes the genes, and increases the quantity of the genes before this particular therapy is available.


So, what does this mean? It means, that this recent NK cell therapy in theory, can be mass produced in HUGE quantities. Furthermore, the method does not depend on taking out cells, which are very hard, in the case of the patient who used to get a lot of therapies which can have an impact, on the quantity of T-cells.


Furthermore, Rezvani states that in technical terms, the making and training process for CAR T and CAR NK cells are almost the same. The biggest difference is with CAR T-cells, they treat 1 patient, but CAR NK do not pinpoint to a specific patient, which enables many dosages to be made from 1 donor, which can then be used in helping to treat several patients.


Leukemias that have come back after being gone, even with CAR T-cell therapies and some benefits, include children with difficult clinical cases. Moreover, they are not without side effects, most especially, neurotoxicity and cytokine release syndrome, which can have devastating effects if urgent attention is not addressed right away.


These specific types of poisoning were not present in this beginning small clinical study, which enables researchers, that this method may have way less serious side effects compared to other therapies.


Besides CAR T-cells, another alternative therapy is available which goes after CD-19. It is a drug known as Blinatumomab (Blincyto). What are the benefits of this recent NK therapy in their approach?

According to Rezvani, NK cells are still present post infusion, and most especially will maintain backing up the patient of their cancer status in a period of time, versus Blinatumomab. Practitioners would need to administer it in consistent infusion and “in multiple cycles.”

Rezvani also states that, this clinical study comes with a caveat “in the minority of patients we have focused treatment on thus far, and with short duration in ‘follow up time’, this method has demonstrated to be far less poisonous.”


Finally, Rezvani states that their [research team’s] goal, is to make better with current treatments, by coming up with “armored CAR NKs”, that can be put to use with good effectiveness, efficiently, and less toxic. She also stated that her research team is in the works of enlarging the clinical study to include other carcinogens related to CD-19 (example: B-cell leukemias).

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