UC San Diego Health first to offer novel melanoma therapy

A new treatment for metastatic melanoma at UC San Diego Health is the first solid tumor therapy on the market approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; UCSD is the first in the region to offer the therapy.

The immunotherapy, a personalized cellular therapy derived from tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), is a one-time, powerful tool to treat patients with advanced melanoma resistant to other approved therapies, according to press material from UCSD.

The process of TIL therapy using lifileucel begins by collecting and isolating a patient’s unique cancer-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes, or T-cells, from a surgically removed tumor. The T-cells are isolated, expanded and stimulated to enhance their ability to recognize, infiltrate and attack cancer cells.

This army of TIL cells is then infused back into the patient. 

The TIL clinical trials “showed favorable treatment results and improved outcomes compared to other options available” for melanoma, said Dr. Gregory Daniels, UCSD professor, medical oncologist and principal investigator of the clinical trials.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with melanoma accounting for nearly one percent of skin cancers but causing the most skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Melanoma deaths have fallen by five percent per year largely because of supported research and clinical advancements in treatment.

UCSD’s ability to provide novel therapies like TIL “reflects our distinction as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center,” said Dr. Diane Simeone, director of Moores Cancer Center at UCSD Health. 

As an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moores Cancer Center at UCSD Health is among the top four percent of approximately 1,500 cancer centers in the country, and one of only 56 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation.

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Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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