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Alert Number 124

Novel Immunotherapy Trial at the Hutch

Date: September 7, 2005

I am pleased to report an interesting clinical trial will soon be open to CLL patients. This immunotherapy approach has the potential for very low toxicity and good efficacy, since it is based on using the body’s own defenses to fight cancer.

T-cells collected from each patient are grown into large armies, activated and targeted to kill only cells with the CD-20 marker. These killer T-cells (CTLs) are then infused back into the patient, to clean-up last traces of CLL (minimum residual disease or MRD) left after more traditional treatment. This innovative approach is the basis for a Phase I clinical trial at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. I am particularly impressed by their targeting capability. It is an important new wrinkle in the development of cancer therapies based on T-cell technology. As we know, the CD20 marker is carried by all CLL cells, and more over it is limited only to mature B-cells. No other cell line carries this marker. Efficient killing of only the cancer cells and the sparing of healthy tissue is at the heart of improving cancer therapies, the key to getting better bang for the buck.

This trial will start recruiting patients very shortly. You can expect the formal announcement in the next few days. Consider this an advance notice for Topics Alert subscribers. You can read our review of this latest evolution in using CTLs in Autologous CD-20 Targeted T-Cell Therapy. We describe the technology, the pros and cons of this early phase clinical trial - and contact information in case you think you may be eligible to participate in this trial.

Be well,


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