Arming the immune system to fight against leukaemia
There are effective treatments for cancers of the blood that bring the disease under control, but patients are rarely cured and the cancer usually returns within five years. Many patients eventually die due to the disease or debilitating effects of repeated rounds of treatment. Cells of the immune system not only fight infection caused by viruses and bacteria but can also attack and destroy cancer cells. We propose to develop two new treatments based on exploiting the immune system that will be given during the window of opportunity when disease is in remission. Our aim is to prevent cancer relapse. Both strategies involve giving patients additional immune cells to ensure factors required to destroy cancer cells are present. Then the immune cells will be stimulated so that they are better able to respond to cancer cells if disease returns. One strategy is designed for use after treatment of patients with chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. The other is for use after chemotherapy alone for patients not eligible for a transplant. Our studies will test and optimize the immune therapy strategies prior to performing clinical trials.