Loading...

Other ways to boost the immune system

Some other forms of immunotherapy are being studied to try to boost specific parts of the immune system. These types of treatments show a lot of promise, but they are complex and so far are available only through clinical trials being done at major medical centers.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy

This is a promising new way to get immune cells called T cells to fight cancer. For this technique, T cells are removed from the patient's blood and genetically altered in the lab to have specific antigen receptors (called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs) on their surface. These receptors will attach to proteins on the surface of cancer cells. The T cells are then multiplied in the lab and given back to the patient, where they can now seek out the cancer cells and launch a precise attack against them.

Currently, there are only few CAR T-cell therapies approved for use in the United States for certain types of advanced, hard-to-treat leukemias and lymphomas. These approvals are based on the results of clinical trials showing that in many patients the cancer could no longer be found after treatment. It is not yet clear if these treatments will result in a long-term cure. Researchers are also still learning about long-term side effects of these treatments. Ask for more information about approved CAR T-cell treatments.

Doctors are still improving how they make the T cells and are learning the best ways to use them for different types of cancer. CAR T-cell therapies being studied are only available in clinical trials for patients whose cancer is not responding to treatment or has returned after treatment.

Some common cancers in which CAR T-cell Therapies are being tested

Some of the more common types of cancer in which CAR T-cell therapies are now being studied

Currently, there are only few CAR T-cell therapies approved for use in the United States for certain types of advanced, hard-to-treat leukemias and lymphomas. These approvals are based on the results of clinical trials showing that in many patients the cancer could no longer be found after treatment. It is not yet clear if these treatments will result in a long-term cure. Researchers are also still learning about long-term side effects of these treatments. Ask for more information about approved CAR T-cell treatments.

Doctors are still improving how they make the T cells and are learning the best ways to use them for different types of cancer. CAR T-cell therapies being studied are only available in clinical trials for patients whose cancer is not responding to treatment or has returned after treatment.

  • Brain tumors (especially glioblastoma)
  • Breast cancer
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • CLL
  • Pancreas cancer

Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and interleukin-2 (IL-2)

Researchers have found immune system cells deep inside some tumors and have named these cells tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). These T cells can be removed from tumor samples taken from patients and multiplied in the lab by treating them with IL-2. When injected back into the patient, these cells can be active cancer fighters. Treatments using TILs are being tested in clinical trials in people with melanoma, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer, and other cancers. Early studies of this approach by researchers from the National Cancer Institute have been promising, but its use may be limited because doctors might not be able to get TILs from all patients.