Using the immune system to beat cancer is quickly becoming a promising new strategy for battling Brain Cancer. But most of the success so far has been with blood cancers like lymphomas and leukemias. Immunotherapy, as it’s called, has yet to prove itself with solid tumors like breast, prostate, lung, colon and brain cancers.But in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Dr. Behnam Badie from the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute and Medical Center say that the same immune-based therapy that is successful against blood cancers also helped a patient with advanced Brain cancer.
The 50-year-old man with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of Brain Cancer, had already been treated with surgery, radiation and anti-tumor drug therapies. Despite these treatments, his Brain cancer had returned and also spread to other parts of his brain and spinal cord. Badie and his team extracted immune cells from him, then engineered them to express proteins on their surface that would recognize and destroy glioblastoma tumor cells. After surgery to remove the bulk of the Brain cancer, Badie and his colleagues directly injected the site with the modified immune cells (called chimeric antigen receptor T cells, or CAR T cells) six times, and the remaining part of this tumor stopped growing.