• Press Release

Mount Sinai Researchers Make Immunotherapy Work for Treatment-Resistant Lymphoma

Transplanting T-Cells Boosts Efficacy of Immunotherapies in Several Cancers

  • New York, NY
  • (August 02, 2019)

Mount Sinai researchers have developed a way to use immunotherapy drugs against treatment-resistant non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas for the first time by combining them with stem cell transplantation, an approach that also dramatically increased the success of the drugs in melanoma and lung cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Discovery in August.

This type of immunotherapy, called “checkpoint blockade,” ramps up the ability of immune cells called T cells to fight cancer by removing the “cloaking effect” that tumors use to hide from them. Checkpoint blockade therapy is effective in several tumor types, but generally ineffective in non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. However, the study found that when this immunotherapy is combined with a stem cell transplant, which the researchers call “immunotransplant,” the process ramps up the T cells to increase the cancer-killing immune response tenfold, allowing it to be effective for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and more successful for melanoma and lung cancer.

The transplant works by "making space" for re-infused immune cells (T cells) to proliferate by clearing out a patient’s original immune system. While they are proliferating and building the immune system back up, they become activated, and the anti-tumor T cells’ anticancer effect becomes stronger.  

The findings have prompted the initiation of a clinical trial using the immunotransplant approach to treat patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03305445), which began enrolling patients in May. They also could eventually lead to effective therapies for other cancer types.

“Using immunotransplant to enhance the efficacy of checkpoint blockade therapy could be broadly significant as these immunotherapies are a standard therapy for melanoma, kidney cancer, lung cancer, and others,” said the study’s corresponding author Joshua Brody, MD, Director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai. “Even for settings in which checkpoint blockade therapy proves ineffective, our data suggest that its efficacy may be ‘rescued’ by immunotransplant. This research also suggests that the addition of checkpoint blockade may improve other T cell therapies, such as CAR-T therapy.” 

Investigators based their findings in the study on their observation of how the immune system responded to bone marrow transplants, T cell therapy, immunotherapy, and immunotransplant in patients and mouse models.

This study was supported by The Tisch Cancer Institute’s National Institutes of Health T32 Transplant and 5T32AI078892 and T32 Immunology 5T32AI007605 training grants.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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