Researchers have generated altered immune cells that are able to shrink, and in some cases eradicate, large tumors in mice. The immune cells target mesothelin, a protein that is highly expressed, or translated in large amounts from the mesothelin gene, on the surface of several types of cancer cells. The approach, developed by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, shows promise in the development of immunotherapies for certain tumors. The study appeared online the week of Feb. 9, 2009, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In a more recent study, appearing online May 5, 2009, in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, NCI researchers developed a human antibody against mesothelin that shows potential, in laboratory experiments, for cancer treatment and diagnosis.
Why can’t the human body immune system prevent all cancers? Because the immune system generally does not identify ordinary human cells — an essential building block of the human body — as a threat to the body, notwithstanding that such cells may possess an uncontrolled level of proliferation. To the extent that the immune system recognizes that certain cancer cells are “suspicious,” solid cancer tumors (including ovarian) further inhibit the attack capability of the immune system by secreting so-called “exosomes.”
Normally, immune system cells known as “T-cells” are entrusted with killing foreign invaders that may be harmful to the body. Exosomes secreted by ovarian cancer cells prevent the “expression” or activation of two biological markers (i.e., Jak-3 kinase & CD3-zeta) which must be present as a prerequisite for T-cell activation. Generally, the biological markers Jak-3 kinase and CD3-zeta are highly expressed in activated T-cell lines. When T-cells are subjected to ovarian cancer ascites fluid, the critical Jak-3 kinase and CD3-zeta biological markers are consistently absent. In sum, the exosomes secreted by ovarian cancer cells produce immunosuppressive activity within the human body and allow the cancer cells to avoid destruction by causing T-cell inactivation. The immunosuppressive activity associated with ovarian cancer is known to correlate with disease progression and reduced long-term survival.
Aethlon Medical, Inc., a pioneer in developing medical devices to treat infectious disease, developed a device known as the “Hemopurifier®” which is capable of removing immunosuppressive exosomes from ovarian cancer cell fluid, thereby allowing proper activation of immune system T-cells that are capable of killing cancer cells. In follow-on studies, Dr. Douglas Taylor at the University of Louisville demonstrated that the capture of exosomes by the Hemopurifier(R) resulted in reversing immunosuppressive activity (i.e., eliminate exosomes). Throughout the course of the studies, the Aethlon Hemopurifier® completely removed the immunosuppressive activity normally found in the ascites fluid of ovarian cancer patients.
Prior to conducting the follow-on studies mentioned above, Dr. Taylor documented that 60% of circulating exosomes were removed from the blood of ovarian cancer patients during the first pass (approximately 10-minutes) through a small scale Hemopurifier®. The capture data was consistent over the course of five different studies. Exosomes are released by solid tumors, lymphomas, and leukemia. Because exosomes induce T-cell apoptosis (programmed cell death), and block T-cell signaling, proliferation, and cytokine production, high concentrations of circulating exosomes correlate with reduced T-cell production and tumor progression in cancer patients. The ability to reduce the presence of circulating exosomes could reverse immune suppression and increase patient responsiveness to both immunotherapy and chemotherapy. As such, Aethlon believes that the Hemopurifier(R) addresses a significant unmet medical need in cancer care.
Dr. Taylor is a recognized authority on the causative effects of immune suppression in cancer patients. He is credited with the initial characterization of exosomes and is a leading peer reviewed author on the subject. Aethlon disclosed that Dr. Taylor did not receive nor request any compensation for conducting the research studies mentioned above.
“Based on emerging data, we envision the Hemopurifier(R) will become a treatment standard that enhances the benefit of therapies administered to those who suffer from cancer,” stated James A. Joyce, Chairman and CEO of Aethlon Medical.
Aethlon Medical Company Background
“Aethlon Medical is the developer of the Hemopurifier®, a first-in-class medical device to treat infectious disease. The Hemopurifier® addresses the largest opportunity in infectious disease, the treatment of drug and vaccine resistant viruses. The Hemopurifier(R) is a single use extracorporeal device that converges hollow-fiber filtration technology with immobilized affinity agents to capture viruses and soluble glycoproteins from the blood. The device has been designed to mimic the natural immune response of clearing infectious viruses and immunosuppressive proteins from circulation. Regulatory and commercialization initiatives in the United States are focused on bioterror threats, while international initiatives are directed towards naturally evolving pandemic threats, and chronic infectious disease conditions including Hepatitis-C (HCV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Collaborative studies to demonstrate utility of the Hemopurifier(R) are being conducted with researchers at the Government of India’s National Institute of Virology (NIV), The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR). Aethlon recently demonstrated safety of the Hemopurifier(R) in a 24-treatment human study and is now conducting follow-on safety studies at the Fortis Hospital in Delhi, India. The Company has also submitted an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) related to advancing the Hemopurifier(R) as a broad-spectrum treatment countermeasure against category “A” bioterror threats. Additional information regarding Aethlon Medical and its Hemopurifier(R) technology can be accessed online at www.aethlonmedical.com.”
[Post Source and Quoted Post Source: “The Aethlon Hemopurifier(R) Reverses Immune Suppression in Cancer,” Aethlon Medical, Inc. News Release dated November 19, 2007].
*[Post Title Source: The “foreword” chapter of The Pogo Papers, written by Walt Kelly and published by Simon & Schuster (Paper) (June 1953). The complete Kelly foreword chapter quote (which is a paraphrase of a message sent in 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after The Battle of Lake Erie stating “We have met the enemy, and they are ours”) is “There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.” Walt Kelly first used the abbreviated quote “We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us” on a poster for Earth Day in 1970.]
CNN Reports On the Hemopurifier®