Conventional treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) frequently fails and is accompanied by severe long-term side effects. Since virtually all undifferentiated NPCs are associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), this tumor is an attractive candidate for cellular immunotherapy targeted against tumor-associated viral antigens. We now demonstrate that EBV-specific cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) lines can readily be generated from individuals with NPC, notwithstanding the patients' prior exposure to chemotherapy/radiation. A total of 10 patients diagnosed with advanced NPC were treated with autologous CTLs. All patients tolerated the CTLs, although one developed increased swelling at the site of pre-existing disease. At 19 to 27 months after infusion, 4 patients treated in remission from locally advanced disease remain disease free. Of 6 patients with refractory disease prior to treatment, 2 had complete responses, and remain in remission over 11 to 23 months after treatment; 1 had a partial remission that persisted for 12 months; 1 has had stable disease for more than 14 months; and 2 had no response. These results demonstrate that administration of EBV-specific CTLs to patients with advanced NPC is feasible, appears to be safe, and can be associated with significant antitumor activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology