Over the last few years, cellular immunotherapy has become integral to treating certain cancers. The therapy uses cells of the immune system to fight cancer. Today, new treatments are continuously being tested and approved. Moreover, new ways of working with the immune system are being discovered rapidly.
As part of the Internal Medicine conference today, Dr Marcos de Lima from Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, US, will be shedding light on advances in cellular immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. “l will also discuss non-cancer indications, as it is a forward-looking treatment option. Cellular immunotherapy is becoming established in some cancers like lymphoma and leukaemia and has the potential for autoimmune diseases, HIV, or anaemias. The field is continuously expanding,”
Excerpts from the interview:
When do you think cellular immunotherapy will become mainstream?
The industry is growing, and we are going to see a lot of new therapies approved. Even the US FDA has been approving immunotherapy treatments over certain periods. So, I think some of the approaches, besides the ones already FDA approved, will become approved over the next decade.
What role is technology playing in fast-tracking these therapies?
Technology plays a huge role in making certain time-consuming and costly processes more affordable. Furthermore, genetic engineering tools are becoming very accessible to modify cells. So, technology is changing this field a lot.
Is there any particular case study that you would like to highlight?
One topic that is of particular interest is the local manufacture of cells. At present, you collect the cells from one patient, ship them to a centralised company that manufactures them, and then send back the product. Although this paradigm works reasonably well, the prices are still very high. We are attempting to do the opposite and manufacture the cells locally to reduce the costs.
What do you think are going to be some of the biggest healthcare trends?
Traditionally, cancer was treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. These used to be the three main approaches for its treatment. Now, we are seeing immunotherapy, which takes advantage of the immune system, as a strong fourth pillar. I think it is one of the significant trends we will see in the next decade.
Dr. Marcos De Lima