Researchers found a new personalized cancer therapy where immune cells are collected from the patient's tumor, grown in the laboratory and put back into the patient. The trials showed dramatic results in women with later stages of cervical cancer.

Most cervical cancers are from the human papillomavirus or HPV which transforms normal cells to tumor cells and uncontrollably proliferate. T-cells can somehow control it but when they cannot, cancer develops. Patients need enough T-cells of the right kind. The new treatment is called HPV-targeted adoptive T-cell therapy. It improves the patient's natural immune response to the virus in cervical cancer tumors.

The new treatment saved at least two women who would have passed away due to their cervical cancers by finding the immune cells in their bodies that identify and fight the tumors. The tests by National Cancer Institute researchers are the first to present a promising technology that can impact solid tumors.

In the study, nine women with later stages of cervical cancer received the adoptive T-cell therapy which three responded to. One of the three saw a 39 percent decrease in tumor volume while the two had remissions that lasted 11 and 18 months by the time the researchers wrote the study.

The researchers boost up the weak immune responses to cancer by getting T-cells from the tumors that identify HPV-related proteins, the E6 and E7. This approach has previously been used in bile duct cancer and the life-threatening skin cancer melanoma. Now the approach appears to work in some cervical cancer patients. Though the trial was small and only one third of the patients were helped, these patients actually had no hope to be cured at all and the results almost never happened in reality.

The young women had already failed several attempts at directed and targeted therapy. The patient population had dismal prognosis and the women had an average of 3.5 months survival after diagnosis. All of the women had HPV-16 and HPV-18. Testing with the patients' immune systems caused a couple of serious side effects such as infections and low blood counts but the results are promising that the trial needs to be expanded to even more patients.

"This proof-of-principle study shows that adoptive transfer of HPV-targeted T cells can cause complete remission of metastatic cervical cancer and that this remission can be long-lasting," lead researcher and assistant clinical investigator Dr. Christian Hinrichs from the U.S. National Cancer Institute said. "It's a very exciting approach."

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