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Immunotherapy Demonstrates Long-Term Success in Treating Lymphoma
Date:11/1/2009

est their theory, the team infused EBV-specific CTL lines into two groups of patients: those who were undergoing HSCT and were at high risk of developing EBV-lymphoma, and patients who had already developed lymphoma. The study reported that CTL treatment successfully prevented the development of EBV-lymphoma in all 101 patients in the at-risk group who received the therapy prophylactically and achieved sustained complete remission in 11 of the 13 patients (85 percent) treated therapeutically (those who already had the disease).

"Therapy with EBV-specific CTLs was effective for these severely immunocompromised patients. The CTLs successfully reached tumors, multiplied, and were able to kill the tumor cells," said lead study author Helen Heslop, MD, of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, The Methodist Hospital, and Texas Children's Hospital.

While the successful outcomes result from a number of factors in the study, the researchers attribute some of the success of the trial to the time of treatment. The CTL lines were infused soon after stem cell transplantation, when the existing white blood cell count was still low and was not quickly regenerating, allowing the infused cells to more quickly multiply and mediate anti-viral and anti-tumor effects. In addition, by marking and tracking the CTL genes, the team was able to demonstrate that the cells could survive for up to nine years in the body, conferring long-term protection.

With strong clinical outcomes, the study team is working to determine the most appropriate role and timing for CTL infusions. Some newer therapies (such as monoclonal antibodies) offer prophylactic and therapeutic options but cannot offer long-term protection. Therefore, treatment with CTLs may be reserved for the highest risk patients - those with a diagnosis of immune deficiency or a history of EBV-lymphoma, or those who develop elevated EBV levels after therapy with monoclonal
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