New Therapy Harnesses Patients’ Immune Cells from Blood to Fight Tumors; Noninvasive Approach Is Fast and Cost-Effective, and Could Be Used to Treat Variety of Cancers

Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) has become a promising immunotherapy tool to help treat advanced melanoma. The therapy, which harnesses immune cells collected from the patient’s own tumors, could provide a new treatment option to cancer patients, potentially bypassing radiation therapies and harsh chemotherapy drugs. For the first time, Northwestern University scientists have discovered it is possible to isolate a tumor’s attack cells non-invasively from blood, rather than from tumors. The finding opens the door for ACT to treat harder-to-reach cancer types and makes it a more viable option for hospitals. “We started asking questions about whether the immune cells that go into tumors come back out, and if you could find them in the bloodstream,” said Shana O. Kelley (photo), PhD, the paper’s corresponding author. “We didn't know if we’d be able to find them or if we could see enough of them to even study them. Sure enough, they’re in the blood. This is the first time these cells have been studied in this context.”

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