Using Patients’ Own Immune System to Knock-out Cancer: Adoptive Cell Therapy

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Topic:  Using Patients’ Own Immune System to Knock-out Cancer: Adoptive Cell Therapy


Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., National Cancer Institute
Eric Tran, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health Surgery Branch, Tumor Immunology Section
Melinda Bachini, CCF Patient Advocate and NIH Research Study Participant


Join Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg (National Cancer Institute) and Dr. Eric Tran (National Institutes of Health) in a webinar about NIH clinical trial NCT01174121 using adoptive cell therapy, a technique that harnesses a person’s own immune system to battle cancer.

Dr. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D, a pioneer in the development of adoptive cell therapy, will discuss the background, objectives and frequently asked questions about this clinical trial.

Dr. Tran, Ph.D., will explain how scientists at the NIH were able to grow billions of immune cells that were infused back into patients to melt away tumors and how this therapy could apply to a wide range of cancers.

Melinda Bachini will share her journey as a cholangiocarcinoma patient and participant in this ground-breaking clinical trial.

Time will be available for Q&A.

Learn more:


Steven-Rosenberg-3Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Rosenberg is Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and a Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.  He. received his B.A. and M.D. degree at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and a Ph.D. in Biophysics at Harvard University.  After completing his residency training in surgery in 1974 at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston Massachusetts, Dr. Rosenberg became the Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute, a position he has held to the present time.

Dr. Rosenberg has pioneered the development of immunotherapy that has resulted in the first effective immunotherapies for selected patients with advanced cancer.  His recent studies of cell transfer immunotherapy have resulted in durable complete remissions in patients with metastatic melanoma. He has also pioneered the development of gene therapy and was the first to successfully insert foreign genes into humans. His recent studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes has resulted in the regression of metastatic cancer in patients with melanoma, sarcomas and lymphomas.

Dr. Rosenberg is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and served on its Board of directors.  He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Association of Immunologists among others.  Dr. Rosenberg is the author of over 950 articles in the scientific literature covering various aspects of cancer research and has authored 8 books.

Eric-Tran-09-29-14-cropEric Tran, Ph.D.

Dr. Tran received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Steven Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Tran’s goal is to develop effective T-cell therapies against common solid cancers. This has led him to investigate the T-cell response against cancer mutations in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. His recent work on a patient with cholangiocarcinoma suggests that the adoptive transfer of T cells targeting a mutation uniquely expressed by that patient’s metastatic cancer appears capable of mediating tumor regression. Dr. Tran’s current efforts are focused on determining how often mutation-reactive T cells can be found patients with metastatic GI cancers and on developing methods to better harness the mutation-specific T-cell response against cancers.

Melinda-BachiniMelinda Bachini

At 46 years old, I am a wife and a mother of six beautiful children. My story began the end of October 2009 when I began to experience some extreme heartburn symptoms, tightness around my epigastric region and indigestion. I thought at the time that I might have gallstones. On December 1st, 2009, I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma. Three weeks later I had 2/3rds of my liver resected with good margins. Unfortunately, at my three month checkup, metastasis was confirmed in my lungs.

I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a second opinion on my options, but they recommended the same treatment of Gemzar and Cisplatinin. They had no clinical trials available for me at that time.

I did the regimen of Gem/Cis for about 5 months with stable disease. Due to the toxicity of the Cisplatin they put me on Gemzar alone which resulted in growth in tumors. I was then switched to Avastin, which held the tumors at bay for a few months. I began having toxicity to the Avastin as well. After many attempts at trying chemotherapy, I found myself not wanting to spend the rest of the life I had left using a chemo that would not cure me but had already caused so much damage. Chemo was toxic and it was not holding against this growing cancer within me.

I found the NIH clinical trial shortly after this decision. It involved the initial chemo to deplete my immune system but after that it was my body fighting the cancer. In March of 2012, two years and four months after diagnosis, I entered into this trial at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. I have had huge success with this treatment and I am hoping and praying that it will also benefit many others!