Cancer regression in patients with metastatic melanoma after the transfer of autologous antitumor lymphocytes

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Oct 5;101 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):14639-45. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0405730101. Epub 2004 Sep 20.


Our recent clinical trials demonstrate that autologous cell transfer after lymphodepleting chemotherapy can cause the regression of large, vascularized tumors in patients with refractory metastatic melanoma. Eighteen of 35 patients treated with tumor-reactive lymphocyte cultures experienced an objective clinical response (>50% reduction in tumor), including four complete responders. In some patients, tumor regression was accompanied by a large in vivo expansion of the administered antitumor lymphocytes, which persisted in peripheral blood at >70% of total lymphocytes for many months after transfer. The cells capable of mediating tumor regression consisted of heterogeneous lymphocyte populations with high avidity for tumor antigens that were derived from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes cultured for limited times in vitro. The success of this treatment likely results from the ability to infuse large numbers of activated antitumor lymphocytes into an appropriate host homeostatic environment depleted of regulatory T cells. These studies are elucidating the requirements for successful immunotherapy of patients with advanced metastatic disease and are leading to additional clinical trials with gene-modified lymphocytes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / methods
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / trends
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lymphocyte Transfusion*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Male
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Antigens, Neoplasm