Promising breakthrough in the fight against ovarian cancer by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.
Scientists from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Lausanne, have found that extracting tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and infusing them back into the patient shows promise in the fight against cancer. Epithelial ovarian tumors contain T cells that are good at identifying and killing infected cancerous cells.
A study by Ludwig Lausanne Investigator Alexandre Harari and George Coukos, Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, showed that engineered killer tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes extracted directly from the tumor are much better at identifying neoepitopes - tiny, cancerous mutated bits of proteins - than their blood-derived counterparts, which have not worked very well against solid tumors. While extracting TILs from the blood in order to identify neoepitopes is not a new idea, the Ludwig researchers have developed methods to extract TILs directly from the tumor, while afterwards selecting and expanding those to best target a patient’s cancer and reinfuse them into the patient.
Says Harari: “[…] we developed a new methodology to identify highly reactive TILs and expand them in a manner that, rather than diluting the juiciest TILs, enriches them instead. This allowed us to compare the activity of TILs that target neoepitopes with their counterparts in the peripheral bloodstream.”
The findings raise hope of successfully fighting cancer in the future. Harari went on to say: “The big message is that future cell-based therapies can be envisioned for low mutational load tumors and should prioritize the use of TILs over T cells collected from peripheral blood," said George Coukos. “This novel strategy to obtain enriched TILs also offers great therapeutic opportunities.”