A first in France: A new cell therapy protocol is being tested in Lyon. A patient has just benefited from a novel therapy for lung cancer. A promising step forward. “A hope, a new front to fight this cancer”, the deadliest cancer in France and in the world.
Alban, 41, has just benefited from a new therapy. Suffering from lung cancer, he was the first in France to take part in this clinical study. So far we have known the treatments by radiotherapy, chemotherapy or immunotherapy. This new protocol is based on “cell therapy”.
The principle is simple: the patient’s own cells are used to fight the cancer. A fragment of the tumor and a blood bag are taken. The samples are then processed in a laboratory in England. There, the patient’s T-lymphocytes (white blood cells that can recognize cancer cells) are “bred” in vitro and then “multiplied”. At the end of this process, we will inject this “medicine” again. The “upgraded” T cells (called cNETs) “will then spread throughout the body, hopefully destroying whatever tumor is still there.”
Professor Sébastien Couraud is a pulmonologist at the HCL (Hospices Civils de Lyon). In his opinion, it was thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of the teams that the operation was possible.
“We were able to take this step because we worked together, with the skills of the different teams.”
Pulmonologists, oncologists, ventilators, and even pharmacists all contributed to the success of this study.
It is the hope of a new therapeutic modality. We have opened a new front. It’s a new weapon, it adds to our arsenal. Maybe not for all types of cancer, but at least for this one. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death.
Professor Sébastien Couraud, pulmonologist
However, this new therapy has some disadvantages. The “journey” is long, about 6 months. The operation takes place under general anesthesia. It also takes time to make “the medicine”. A further 3 weeks of hospitalization, including one in the intensive care unit, are required for reinjection.
The criteria are also strict. The patient must agree to participate in the study, be able to withstand intensive treatment, and be able to endure any complications.
Despite these limitations, Alban (the first patient to benefit from this new protocol) was discharged from the hospital in February. “He’s a bit tired, but he’s fine, happy to be home,” his doctor said.
Four more people are expected to have access to this therapy in the coming months.