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May 29, 2014
 |  BC Innovations  |  Cover Story

Personalized medicine gets personal

Epithelial cancers are the most common malignancies, but immunotherapy development has been stymied because of the difficulty in identifying targets that are not expressed on normal tissues. A National Cancer Institute team has now used a next-generation sequencing approach to identify such rare mutations in one patient and determine which, if any, are recognized by the immune system. The team then developed an autologous cell therapy against one of the mutations that led to cancer regression and disease stabilization.1

The researchers now need to show that the personalized method can provide similar results for unique mutations in other patients and that the approach can further be generalized to treat large numbers of patients.

"It isn't known at present how frequently actionable, i.e., immunogenic, mutations are to be found commonly in epithelial cancers," said Michel Sadelain, director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Center for Cell Engineering and cofounding scientist of Juno Therapeutics Inc. "Methods to rapidly identify the relevant immunogenic mutations are direly needed."

The NCI team, led by Steven Rosenberg, set out to identify mutation-specific tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in...

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