The more times metastasized melanoma has mutated and the patient's immune system has been activated against the tumor, the better the chances of survival after immunotherapy. This is what has emerged from a research collaboration between Lund University in Sweden and Herlev University Hospital in Denmark. The findings were published online on November 23, 2017 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Mutational and Putative Neoantigen Load Predict Clinical Benefit of Adoptive T Cell Therapy in Melanoma.” Using the body's own immune system to combat tumors, an approach known as immunotherapy, has brought a major breakthrough in cancer care. Whereas we previously had no treatments able to increase survival for certain cancer diagnoses, it is now possible to treat advanced melanoma, for example. One such immunotherapy method currently under clinical trial on patients with advanced melanoma is adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT). The treatment is demanding, both in terms of resources and for the patient, who needs to be in a condition to withstand it. In simple terms, the treatment entails first removing the patient's own T-cells from the tumor. The patient's T-cells are then cultured in the lab and subsequently injected back into the patient. "The aim is for them to seek out and fight the tumor and the circulating tumor cells", explains Dr. Göran Jönsson (photo), researcher at Lund University. He is collaborating with Herlev University Hospital in Copenhagen, which is one of few hospitals in Europe currently conducting clinical trials of this form of immunotherapy. Although the treatment outcomes are promising, only just below half of patients respond to this immunotherapy.
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