Targeted immunotherapy instructs the immune system to recognize and attack tumor cells. The approach involves removing white blood cells called T cells from patients and introducing a new gene into the T cells that enables them to recognize the cancer. After the gene is transferred and expressed, the T cells are infused back into the patient, where they multiply and cause a variety of immune responses aimed at attacking the cancer cells.
A recent Memorial Sloan Kettering study evaluating this cell-based immune therapy to treat an aggressive form of leukemia reported that 88 percent of patients responded to the treatment. It is the largest study to date to evaluate this treatment for adult patients with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rapidly progressing form of blood cancer.