Training Our Immune System to Fight Cancer Cells

Key development:
A research team at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia led by Carl June, MD, is developing new approaches that selectively boost a patient’s immune system to help fight cancer.

The team genetically engineered T cells and used them to help patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) achieve remissions: Two of the first three adult patients to receive the therapy remain in complete remission more than three years after their treatment, and the first pediatric patient has been in remission for more than a year.

The results are shifting expectations about how to treat patients who no longer respond to standard therapies.

How LLS helped:
LLS has invested $16 million in the work of Dr. June and colleagues over the past 15 years, and plans to invest another $5 million over the next five years to get this treatment to more patients.

Why this matters:
Dr. June and his team, and other LLS-funded investigators, are trying to accomplish what researchers have hoped to do for decades: Train our immune systems to kill cancer cells. The strategy also shows promise for other types of cancer patients.


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