Clinical Perspectives

Expanding TILs Beyond Melanoma – Sarcoma Study Now Open

August 21, 2020

Use Of Tils

Tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T) are two forms of immunotherapy that use T cells to treat cancers. Although CAR T therapy has yielded remarkable efficacy for hematological malignancies of the B-cell lineages, most solid tumors fail to respond significantly to chimeric antigen receptor T cells. This may be due to the complex array of antigens seen in the tumor cells of solid tumors which require a polyclonal cell product approach. TILs, are specific immune system cells (T cells) that naturally reside within tumors. In adoptive cell therapy, TILs are collected from the tumor during a surgical resection and grown in a laboratory with interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine that promotes rapid TIL growth. Once successfully grown to billions, the TILs are infused back into the patient, where they actively attack cancer cells. Moffitt’s Cell Therapies facility can generate the TIL product onsite for Moffitt patients.

“Historically adoptive cell therapy using TIL has been used in melanoma because generation of a cell product in the lab was most successful for melanoma and so the translational research to optimize TIL therapy became focused on melanoma” said surgical oncologist Dr. John Mullinax,  “What sets Moffitt apart is our portfolio of clinical trials with multiple non-melanoma solid tumor types such as sarcoma, head & neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer and cervical cancer.”

Dr. John Mullinax
Dr. John Mullinax, surgical oncologist

Moffitt Cancer Center's Sarcoma Oncology Program is currently treating patients on a sarcoma adoptive cell therapy clinical trial where sarcoma patients receive an infusion of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). The trial seeks to enroll Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) patients ages 18-39 with metastatic sarcoma that have failed at least one other standard treatment therapy to test the hypothesis that this is a safe approach in sarcoma patients. In the United States, AYA patients have the lowest clinical trial participation rate of all age groups and slower progress in survival improvement than younger patients, making this opportunity especially unique for patients. 

Moffitt researchers are leaders in advancing the field of TIL therapy and Dr. Mullinax is hoping to see the same success in sarcoma patients as has been seen for melanoma patients at Moffitt.

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