Vanderbilt tests new treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - WSMV News 4

Vanderbilt tests new treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Posted: Updated: May 03, 2016 05:57 PM

Researchers at Vanderbilt are testing an innovative new form of immunotherapy to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the most common forms of cancer.

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is the first center in Tennessee to use it as part of a clinical trial.

The therapy uses the patient's own cells and immune system, in particular stem cells or t-cells, which are taken from a sick patient and sent to a special manufacturing facility.

The cells are re-engineered to produce special receptors on their surface and then injected back in the patient's own body. They have re-engineered cells have one mission – to kill cancer cells.

Dr. Olalekan Oluwole at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is leading the trial, called ZUMA-1.

"Chemo goes everywhere," Oluwole said. "We have to treat patients for many, many months. This, it's more targeted. These immune cells, they go after exactly where they're supposed to go after.

"The immune system has a lot of qualities which we use to fight cancer,” Oluwole added.

Oluwole is currently treating his first patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The therapy requires careful observation, as the side effects are serious.

"We need to monitor them in the hospital while the immune system goes after the cancer, because they can get sick," Oluwole said. "They will get fever and the type of things you see in somebody with severe infection."

If the trial proves the therapy works, researchers plan to extend it to other cancers as well.

The trial is open to patients whose disease has progressed despite previous therapies.

To learn more about the ZUMA-1 trial and other clinical trials, click here.

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