It is possible to cure some individuals with leukemia by infusing them with immune cells known as lymphocytes during a surgical procedure known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT).
However, little is known about effective HCT approaches to treating individuals with solid tumors.
In a new study, Richard Childs and colleagues, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, have outlined an HCT approach for the treatment of metastatic kidney cancer that caused tumor regression associated with a tumor-targeted lymphocyte response in several patients.
The authors detected tumor-targeted lymphocytes known as CD8+ T cells in the blood of patients with metastatic kidney cancer who had received nonmyeloablative HCT.
Further analysis identified the tumor peptide recognized by these CD8+ T cells and it was found to be a fragment of a protein not expressed by healthy cells. The gene responsible for making this protein was part of a region of human chromosome 6 derived from a human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) type E.
The authors therefore suggested that HERV-E is activated in metastatic kidney cancer providing a protein target for the immune system.
This information might be useful when considering the development of immunotherapeutic approaches to treating individuals with this form of cancer.
Journal reference: Regression of human kidney cancer following allogeneic stem cell transplantation is associated with recognition of an HERV-E antigen by T cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation. March 2008.
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