Patients suffering from metastatic melanoma may now be treated, thanks to the following discovery. Investigators from the Indiana University School of Medicine claim that a potent anti-tumor gene provided to mice with metastatic melanoma results in permanent immune reconfiguration and a complete remission of the cancer. The findings seem to be extremely vital as present day treatments for the disease are highly toxic and largely unsuccessful.
During the research, a modified lentivirus was put to use for introducing a potent anti-melanoma T cell receptor gene into the hematopoietic stem cells of mice. It is known that hematopoietic stem cells are the bone marrow cells responsible for producing all blood and immune system cells. The T cell gene apparently identifies certain protein found on the surface of melanoma. This protein was segregated and cloned from a patient diagnosed with melanoma. Once gene-modified stems cells were achieved, they were transplanted back into hosts. It was observed that the gene-modified stems cells seemingly excluded metastatic melanoma permanently.
Christopher E. Touloukian, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery and immunology at the IU School of Medicine and a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, and colleagues presume that the transplantation of gene-modified hematopoietic stem cells develops a new host immune system and results in complete removal of tumor. The translational model put forth by the current research may be beneficial for patients with melanoma and potentially other cancers too.
The research appears online and will be published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.