MD Anderson at Cooper First in the World to Enroll a Patient In a Promising New Clinical Trial for Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma

Young Ki Hong, MD, MPH

(CAMDEN, NJ) – Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper are leading the way in new approaches to treating advanced melanoma using tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy. Earlier this year, MD Anderson at Cooper became the first site in the world to offer and enroll a patient in TILVANCE-301,  a new randomized Phase III clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of TIL therapy as a first line treatment versus pembrolizumab (current standard of immunotherapy care) for advanced melanoma.

“TIL therapy is a promising, personalized approach to cancer treatment,” says Young Ki Hong, MD, MPH, surgical oncologist at MD Anderson at Cooper, and principal investigator of several TIL studies. “Our patient has had a remarkable response to this therapy. Each subsequent surveillance scan has shown a continuous reduction in the size of her tumor. We are grateful for patients who participate in clinical trials. Through their own treatment, they are helping to advance cancer care for others. As she completes her treatment, we are encouraged not only by her results, but what is means for patients in the future.”

“Research findings published in top medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that TIL therapy not only prolongs the lives of those with advanced melanoma but also allows some to have complete responses, even after failing the previous standard-of-care immunotherapy. Research has documented numerous patients who have been cured of their metastatic melanoma for more than 10 years from this treatment,” Dr. Hong said.

This clinical trial is part of emerging cell therapy treatments for several types of solid tumor cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, cervical cancer, and head and neck cancers. Researchers at MD Anderson at Cooper are participating in clinical trials in these areas as well.

How TIL Therapy Works

After treating cancer for long periods, a patient’s T cells often become depleted and no longer effective. TIL therapy replaces these ineffective T cells with the patient’s own boosted, lab-grown T cells that can renew the fight against the cancer.

First, a cancerous tumor is removed from the patient and sent to a special lab. At the lab, the patient’s cancer-fighting T cells are isolated from the tumor. They are revitalized, grown into billions of cells, and then frozen.

When the new T cells are ready, the patient receives intensive chemotherapy treatment to eliminate regulatory cells, which suppress immune response in the body. The boosted, lab-grown T cells are returned to the patient through an infusion. At this point, the only T cells in the patient’s body are their own supercharged cancer-fighting cells. Patients then receive between one and six doses of a medication called IL2, which further boosts effectiveness of the T cells.

The patient’s new T cells regenerate and form lasting memory cells, which continuously look for and attack new cancer cells.

For more information about this clinical trial and other cancer clinical trials, visit Cooper’s website here.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Members of the care team, researchers, and the first patient enrolled are available to discuss this new therapy.

 About MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is a leading cancer center in the region. Through our partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center – a world-renowned cancer center – our patients have access to advanced cancer treatments. Our multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach to cancer care combines the expertise of our highly skilled cancer specialists with innovative diagnostic and treatment technologies and groundbreaking clinical trials.

MD Anderson at Cooper takes a disease-site-specific approach to cancer care. Experts from every area of cancer medicine work together to provide each patient with outstanding care from diagnosis to treatment, recovery, and beyond. Patients also have access to our full range of supportive care services throughout their cancer journey. Learn more at


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