Dr. Rosenberg Discusses the Curative Potential of Cancer Immunotherapy

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute, discusses the curative potential of immunotherapy for patients with cancer.

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Chief of Surgery, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Professor of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Melanoma: Giant of Cancer Care, discusses the curative potential of immunotherapy for patients with cancer.

Promising cell therapies are currently being developed as potential treatments for patients with multiple types of cancer at the NCI, Rosenberg notes. In early studies, these treatments, which predominately utilize tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, have induced durable complete regressions in up to 40% of patients with melanoma, Rosenberg says.

In a recent paper published by Rosenberg in the journal Science, patients underwent whole-exome sequencing to identify immunogenic mutations as potential targets for adoptive treatment. Once these tumor-specific mutations were found, patients underwent adoptive transfer of high levels of mutation-targeted tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, which induced antitumor activity and tumor regression. These findings suggest that sporadic mutations within each patient's cancer may represent the "perfect target" for novel adoptive cell therapies, Rosenberg believes.

Utilizing this approach could produce highly specific and sensitive immune-based therapies. Promising early results have been demonstrated in patients with epithelial cancer, suggesting broader application across various solid tumors. Following this initial success, research is being expanded into more common types cancer, Rosenberg says.