Shana Kelley, professor of chemistry at Northwestern University

Can new man­u­fac­tur­ing ap­proach­es fi­nal­ly make a decades-old cell ther­a­py idea a re­al­i­ty?

For over 30 years, can­cer re­searchers have known some­thing rather ex­tra­or­di­nary, giv­en how hard it nor­mal­ly is to treat ad­vanced tu­mors.

If you just ex­tract the T cells float­ing in­side cer­tain pa­tients’ tu­mors— a 10 to 30 gram slice will do —  ex­pand those cells in a lab, and re­in­fuse them back in­to the pa­tient, there’s a high like­li­hood those tu­mors will soon shrink. The NCI’s proof-of-prin­ci­ple ex­per­i­ment showed a 60% re­sponse rate in metasta­t­ic melanoma in 1988 — more than two decades be­fore oth­er im­munother­a­pies would be­gin to change can­cer care.

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