Science Breakthrough of the Year Is Cancer Immunotherapy

on Friday, December 20, 2013

Science’s 2013 Breakthrough of the Year is cancer immunotherapy, a treatment that has been pioneered by researchers and clinicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Immunologist Jedd Wolchok led the clinical trials for ipilimumab, a treatment that inhibits a “brake” on T cells to allow the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Ipilimumab was the first agent ever shown to improve overall survival for patients with advanced melanoma and Dr. Wolchok is now testing ipilimumab in combination with other immune therapies.

Another immunotherapy advance pioneered at Memorial Sloan Kettering is adoptive T cell therapy, in which a patient’s own immune cells are genetically altered to recognize and attack a protein found on cancer cells. Earlier this month, Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers presented data on 16 patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were treated with their own altered T cells and reported an 88 percent complete response rate.

Patients who have received novel immune therapies are available for interviews.