139th National Cancer Advisory Board
this method, normal human resting peripheral blood lymphocytes can be converted into cells capable of recognizing tumor antigens in vitro and capable of mediating cancer regression in vivo. This work suggests the therapeutic potential of genetically engineered cells for biologic therapy of cancer. Although the response rate in early-phase trials is lower than in the conventional adoptive cell transfer, the method increases the number of patients eligible for ACT. Further modification of the transfection procedure may produce greater persistence of the modified lymphocytes and thus increase response. Dr. Niederhuber briefly described the procedure and presented the results of early-phase trials in two cohorts of patients. In a cohort of patients with metastatic melanoma, two individuals demonstrated regression of their tumors at more than 18 months after treatment with the engineered T-lymphocytes. Dr. Niederhuber noted that the intramural immunology group is holding a symposium this fall, and more than 1,000 registrations were received shortly after announcement of the event, attesting to the recognition accorded the program and the strength of the intramural program.
Dr. Niederhuber closed by reiterating the common mission and the dedication of the Board and the NCI to making a difference in cancer as a disease in terms of prevention, treatment, and survival. He reminded members of data that demonstrate a sustained slow decline in mortality from this disease despite a rapidly aging population and other factors that would predict otherwise, as well as a recent study indicating that every 1 percent decrease in the mortality of cancer translates to a savings of about $400 B in the U.S. economy. He articulated the belief that the NCI and community of cancer researchers across the country have led advances in biomedical research for the past several decades and must continue to provide such scientific leadership, both intramurally and through the extramural program. Toward that end, he cited trans-NIH initiatives, such as that in angiogenesis, in which the NCI has a lead role for the NIH. In addition, the NCI is working on trans-NCI programs in areas such as the environment and prevention and computational biology.
Questions and Answers
Dr. Runowicz recalled discussions among members as to how the Board can help the NCI in its advisory capacity, in areas such as financing and research direction. Dr. Chabner commended the comprehensive review that has been undertaken by the NCI. He expressed interest in hearing the outcome of the review in terms of programs that are deemed the top priorities with potential for contributing to the future and those that may be left behind or reduced in scope. Dr. Niederhuber gave assurance that the process would continue to be transparent, and he welcomed feedback from all sources, including the scheduled meetings of the advisory boards, the annual joint retreat, visits at the various universities, and discussions with members of the professional societies. Dr. James Doroshow, Director, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD) and Dr. Robert Wiltrout, Director, CCR, commented on the rigor and transparency of the intramural review and its value in promoting understanding of the work and resources of the other divisions. Dr. Wiltrout noted also that the review provided an opportunity in this large organization to see where resources can be leveraged within one division for the benefit of another and where trans-NCI activities can be initiated, as well as partnerships within the NCI and with the extramural community. Dr. Niederhuber expressed his intention to have the intramural enterprise serve as a resource to the extramural research community, citing the computational facility on the Frederick campus and the Clinical Center as examples of available and valuable resources.
Dr. Coffey commended the recent presentation to Congress about the financial savings realized from cancer research and the demonstrated reduction in cancer deaths, a savings, he noted, that was equal to more than 100 years of financing for the NCI. He called attention to the Harris Report and the public’s perception that there is a 1 in 100 chance of getting cancer, whereas the real odds are 1 in 3. He recommended that all of this information be communicated proactively in defense of the NCI budget. In that regard, Ms. Giusti pointed out that some groups have begun working together to create one voice