Leukemia -New Developments for Immunotherapy Brings Hope
The field of cancer immunology is now more than 30 years old and has developed rapidly, particularly over the last 10 years. Immunotherapy, the use of the stimulated immune system to fight off disease, has branched out into different subsets including immune system growth factors, monoclonal antibodies, cellular therapies, and even combinations of two or more of these strategies. Recent advances in adoptive immunotherapy (focused on the expansion of specific disease-fighting white blood cells and their infusion into patients) have led to breakthrough discoveries that will profoundly impact the treatment of stage 4 Leukemia and other cancers over the next decade.
Immunotherapy is the use of the immune system to fight off chronic diseases, such as cancer. Various immunotherapy strategies have been developed over the last few decades with much research focused on the infusion of white blood cells (the immune system's backbone) directly into patients. The most effective of such resultant protocols, call for these white blood cells to activated and expanded outside the body in an attempt to target them to tumor cells. This type of strategy is called adoptive immunotherapy. Research has shown that three types of white blood cells seem to be the most potent at fighting tumors:
- Natural killer cells (NKs)
- Natural killer T cells
- Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs)
Natural killer cells are particularly key, as they are the body's first-line defense against cancer and viruses. They have the ability to recognize and kill such invading cells by attaching to them and injecting a type of cellular poison that breaks the cells apart. They are also capable of recognizing cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from the primary disease site.
Stage 4 Cancer and Advanced Leukemia Immunotherapy
Multitudes of published studies have demonstrated the effects of adoptive immune therapy in cancer patients. Our medical team assessed the best of these studies and focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each. Their findings established a protocol that incorporates only the best procedures for the expansion and application of cells as a powerful immune therapy. Our protocols are based on the most recent published research in the field, from some of the most prestigious hospitals and universities in the nation and around the world. Because leukemia is a cancer of white blood cells, and most immunotherapy strategies try to increase the ability of white blood cells to fight cancer, leukemia has posed interesting questions to researchers in this field. Only very recently have adoptive immunotherapy strategies become available for patients with leukemia. The major hurdle to this was being able to isolate normal, non-leukemic cells that could fight against the cancerous ones. Published research has confirmed that NKs, NKTs, and CTLs can indeed be isolated, expanded and activated from the blood of patients with leukemia. Although patients with acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) or chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL) have very few normal lymphocytes, successful expansion of NK, NKT, and CTLs was noted.[1-5] Likewise, these cells can be generated from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), whose lymphocytes are non-cancerous but typically dysfunctional.[6-11] In almost all cases, the NKs, NKTs, and CTLs expanded from leukemia patients were able to kill tumor cells in laboratory tests.[2-4, 6-11] There is strong evidence that in acute leukemia patients who have gone into remission, the ability of their natural killer cells to kill cancer cells in laboratory tests is a strong indicator of continued remission. Those patients with higher natural killer cell activity had longer remission periods than those with lower NK activity.
Mainstream Care Providers Finally Taking Stage 4 Immunotherapy for Leukemia and Other Cancers Seriously
A recent clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota utilized natural killer cells in patients with poor prognosis acute myeloid leukemia. Complete remissions were experienced in 5 out of 19 patients after receiving these NK cell infusions. Naturally, the proposed use of natural killer cell therapy in earlier stage patients is now being considered. In other published scientific studies, the presence of activated NK cells and other tumor-fighting immune cells have been found to be key factors in the response of cancer patients to drugs such as thalidomide and Gleevec.[14,15]
Stage 4 Leukemia and Cancer Immunotherapy
Envita currently utilizes NK, NKT, and T lymphocytes as supportive immunotherapy for cancer patients, including those with Leukemia. Our immune therapy vaccine is called AAIT (autologous adoptive immune therapy,) and there are 4 major cell types involved – the great majority being natural killer cells and T cells. Our AAIT therapy grows a patient's own antitumor immune cells into the billions, analyzes them for activation markers, tests their cancer killing ability in the lab. Only then, when the serum vaccine is fully optimized, is it re-infused into the patient. The infusion of activated natural killer cells is much more effective than any indirect stimulation of natural killer cell activity. Enhancing the immune system is a major benefit to fighting cancer, but this vaccine-driven routine may be added upon through subtraction. Simply put, we can improve results by not only bolstering critical components of the immune system, but simultaneously depleting it of negative factors that impede its functionality. Backed by scientific research and clinical results, AAIT offers a powerful option for cancer patients who are looking to fight cancer while keeping their immune system intact. Enhancing the immune system is a major benefit to fighting cancer, but this vaccine-driven routine may be added upon through subtraction. Simply put, we can improve results by not only bolstering critical components of the immune system, but simultaneously depleting it of negative factors that impede its functionality. It is no secret that cancer cells effect the release of T-regulatory cells, or "negative T cells." The numbers of these cells correlate directly with specific cancer stages – respective to each cancer type. The more advanced the cancer, the higher the T-regulatory cells. Naturally, by stepping in and acting to deplete these cells along with other key enzymes that block critical immune system, cancer cell-killing action will be expedited exponentially. Imagine your immune system being targeted and ready to go, yet something in your body suddenly applies the brakes. This is in fact what most advanced cancer patients are dealing with in regards to high regulatory T cells. Our treatment protocols build a targeted vaccine by using the body's most powerful cancer killers, but also depletes the portion of the immune system that inhibits the body from functioning efficiently in such regard. Case in point, there is no treatment (conventional or alternative) that can be effective in the later stages of cancer if these negative T-cells are not effectively down-regulated. Unlike other immune therapies found in the published literature, AAIT can be used as a stand-alone treatment. AAIT can also be given in conjunction with other therapies that will act to enhance the effects of cells once they are in the patient. This is a key improvement over many of the published studies in the scientific literature. AAIT therapy is not just focused on expanding cells in the laboratory; the ultimate goal is to also expand them and keep them activated after they are infused back into the body. If you have any questions concerning AAIT, please consult with our team of physicians and patient educators. This particular treatment is only offered in Envita Mexico's international cancer center.