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Immunotherapy has joined the arsenal of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to manage cancer, having shown to be effective in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanoma, sarcomas, and lymphomas. Much of the advances in cancer immunotherapy and related gene therapies were pioneered right here at the NIH under the leadership of Steve Rosenberg, chief of the NCI Surgery Branch.
Rosenberg introduced the first immunotherapy treatment, interleukin 2 (IL-2), more than 30 years ago. He also spurred the development of a treatment approach known as adoptive cell transfer (ACT), which uses the body's own T cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. He was then the first to use T lymphocytes genetically engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to successfully treat patients with aggressive lymphomas. In 2017, the FDA approved the first CAR T-cell therapies for children and young adults with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and then for adults with advanced lymphomas.
For this lecture in the Demystifying Medicine series, we bring you the present and future of cancer immunotherapy. Steve Rosenberg and Nirali Shah, clinical head of the pediatric hematologic malignancies section of the NCI Pediatric Oncology Branch, will describe both the remarkable cures and stubborn challenges they witness daily in immunotherapy clinical trials at the NIH Clinical Center. Rosenberg's own lab and others mentored by him are working on approaches to apply cell-transfer immunotherapy for patients with any type of cancer, such as solid tumors.