Overview of Immuno-Cell Therapy

Immuno-Cell Therapy is known as a systemic treatment with minimal adverse reaction in cancer treatment. Basic concept of the therapy is to strengthen immune function of human body for elimination of any abnormal cells such as virus-infected or malignant cells from the body. In other words, immune cells of patient are activated and expanded outside of the body and infused into the patient in order for the immune cells to fight against disease.

Immuno-Cell Therapy is categorized as a cell medicine as well as a regenerative medicine represented by cultured skin and cartilage, and stem cell transplant, and is an advanced therapy based on immunology and molecular biology. Immuno-Cell Therapy has already been applied as Advanced Medical Technology, approved by Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, in clinical practice of some university hospitals by limiting types of disorder.

From general perspective to conduct Immuno-Cell Therapy, the therapy can be used for sole treatment as well as a combination therapy with standard therapies, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, against advanced cancer. It is also expected that Immuno-Cell Therapy could be effective as an adjuvant therapy after surgery for prevention of recurrence.

Process for Immuno-Cell Therapy

Activation and expansion of immune cells are performed through cell-culturing process, and general example of cell-culturing process is as followed;-

  1. 1)Peripheral blood is taken from a patient, and is transferred to Cell Processing Center ("CPC").
  2. 2)Mononuclear cells are separated from peripheral blood in the CPC.
  3. 3)T-Lymphocytes among mononuclear cells are activated in flask.
  4. 4)T-Lymphocytes are expanded in culturing bag.
  5. 5)T-Lymphocytes are harvested, washed and suspended in physiological saline.
  6. 6)T-Lymphocytes are reinfused into the patient.

Mechanism of Immno-Cell Therapy

In general, living organism, including human, has basic structural and functional unit, called as "Cell," and the Cell is classified into some types, depended on each function of human body. When there are some abnormalities of such Cells arisen in the body, the Cells are transferred to cancer cells. Hence, we could describe cancer as "Cancer is caused by some abnormalities in genetically transformed Cells."

The process of DNA replication inherently places cells at risk of acquiring mutations. Upon mutation, some genes lead to altered gene products that result in a normal cell to a cell of neoplasia. It is considered that mutation is daily occurred in great number of cells, but there is a mechanism in which these transformed cells, including cancer cells are eliminated. This mechanism is so-called "Immune Surveillance System."

However, this explanation leads to a question of "Why does a person get cancer despite of eliminating cancer cells by the Immune System?" In general, there are some causes for appearing cancer. First cause may be presumed that some cancer cells have ability to escape from immune system; it means that cancer cells disguised themselves as normal cells, so that immune system is not able to identify and attack such cancer cells. As a consequence of such ability, cancer cells amplify themselves to form cancer tissue, gradually.

Another cause may be diminished Immune Surveillance System in some reasons, such as excessive overstress or aging and others, which allow cancer cells to grow and appear in the body. Once cancer shows progression, it exert immunosuppressive activity to immunity. "To conclude, it is considered that we need to greatly change the power of immunity against cancer of the patient in order to treat cancer". For example, surgery and radiotherapy locally eliminate most of cancer mass. After the cancer mass is either resected or irradiated, power balance between immunity and cancer shifts in favor of the immunity. In addition, Immuno-Cell Therapy strengthens immunity of human body, and changes power balance between immunity and cancer.

Fundamental Treatment for Standard Therapy

It is expected that Immuno-cell Therapy become foundamendal treatment for current standard therapies

In order to fight against such difficult disease, it is considered that treatment of cancer should be conducted at early stages or should combine different types of cancer therapies. At present, there are mainly three conventional therapies of surgery (surgical operation), radiotherapy, and chemotherapy (anticancer drugs,) so-called as "standard therapy," in cancer treatment. Although all of those standard therapies have been technically and clinically developed/ improved, their efficacies are still limited in advanced cancer, especially by sole treatment. Therefore, a combination among those standard therapies is generally to be conducted for advanced cancer.

For example, it is anticipated that surgical resection can be conducted locally-limited cancer as a primary standard therapy, and radiotherapy can be conducted as a primary standard therapy even in some regional cancers, which resection is not possible. However, even though these therapies can be known as effective treatment, many cancers tend to be either metastatic or advanced cases which cannot be managed by these therapies. Only conventional treatment for the metastatic and advanced cancers is to rely on chemotherapy (anticancer drugs) which can show effectiveness against systemically extended cancers. However, it is known that anticancer drugs also entail extremely strong adverse drug reactions (ADRs.) In some cases it remains a great need in the public to develop new anticancer drugs with less ADRs, or other useful systemic treatments. As a consequence of such demand in the public, it is expected that Immuno-Cell Therapy can become fundamental treatment in combination with these standard therapies by supporting effect of these standard therapies.

In the public, some people may bring up image of Immuno-Cell Therapy as "Folk Medicine," such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Supplement and Alternative Complementary and Alternative Medicine, because of its wording "Immunity." However, Folk Medicine is scientifically groundless, and is totally different from the Immuno-Cell Therapy. The therapy has theoretical background based upon the most advanced immunology, molecular biology and cellular engineering, and is researched at universities and major hospitals. Background of Immuno-Cell Therapy is based upon the technology back in 1980s. Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg at National Institute of Health in the United States developed adoptive transfer of autologous lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells and recombinant interleukin-2 (IL-2) in 1980s, and technology of the Immuno-Cell Therapy has also been improved in accordance with the progress in immunology and bio-technology.

We have developed technology of the Immuno-Cell Therapy into clinical application in light of current theoretical background of immunology. We have also carried out basic research and technological development for effective treatment, based upon theory of Dr. Koji Egawa (Founder of Seta Clinic Group) in technology of the Immuno-Cell Therapy while we accumulate clinical evidence. By such basic research and technological development, we offer two types of the Immuno-Cell Therapy, such as "Activated Autologous Lymphocyte Therapy" and "Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy." Activated Autologous Lymphocyte Therapy is based on the use of T lymphocytes, which plays a central role to attack cancer cells. Large numbers of activated autologous lymphocytes are infused repeatedly into a patient in order to prevent recurrence and to restrain progression. Such Activated Autologous Lymphocyte Therapy includes αβT-cell Therapy, γδT-cell Therapy and CTL (Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte) Therapy. Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy is known as specific immunotherapy, which antigen-presenting cells induce autologous tumor-specific CTL by presenting antigen to T lymphocytes in-vivo.

Comparison among Three Major Cancer Therapies and Immuno-Cell Therapy

  Surgery Radiotherapy Chemotherapy Immuno-Cell Therapy
Treatment Method Removal of cancer by surgical operation Irradiation of X-rays, heavy particle iron beam, and the like Administration of anticancer drugs Lymphocytes and other immune cells activated and expanded outside of the body and infused to patient's body
Treatment Mode Local Local Systemic Systemic
Characteristics Effective against early-stage cancers Early-stage cancers , inoperable cancers because of their location. Advanced cancers, postoperative microscopic cancers, and inoperable advanced cancers Systemic treatment maintaining QOL Preventive effect on recurrence has been reported in several previous articles.
Target Cancer Early-stage solid cancers Head and neck cancers, uterine cancer, etc. Curative effect on choriocarcinoma, acute myelogenous leukemia, malignant lymphomas, testicular cancer, etc. Almost every cancers (excluding some blood cancers, including leukemia and T-cell malignant lymphoma)
Problems in Treatment Risk of hemorrhage due to organ injury and decline/loss of normal organ functions It may cause early or late toxicities because it injures normal cells around cancer mass. Normal cells as well as cancer cells are killed because it injures rapidly proliferating cells. Essentially none (minimal effect, such as fever and etc)