Immunotherapy is at the cutting edge of cancer treatment; however, it’s not a silver bullet for all cancer patients. Ichilov is the only hospital in Israel with accreditation to perform a new test that identifies patients who will respond best to immunotherapy.
Dr. Gilad Weiner, Head of Immunotherapy Services for cancer patients at Ichilov: “Ichilov Medical Center is the only institution in Israel, and one of a handful of institutions in the world, which has been accredited by the FDA to perform these tests.”
Immunotherapy – a New Era of Hope
Immunotherapy has ushered in a new era of hope for cancer patients. This innovative treatment method recruits the body’s own immune system to destroy malignant cells and allows precision in determining treatment protocols for various cancer tumors, including: lung cancers, breast cancers (triple negative), stomach cancers, head and neck cancers, and more.
Immunotherapy was crowned a scientific breakthrough by Science Magazine in 2013. In that same year, following more than three decades of research, the scientific community received dual confirmation of the efficacy of this treatment when it was proven that the changes which occur as a result of the interaction between the tumor and the body’s immune system could propagate an immune attack on the tumor. The second confirmation came in the form of evidence which shows that immunotherapy is not only effective for individuals, but is also appropriate for large groups of patients. This research heralded in new treatment concepts for cancer patients. Today, patients suffering from metastatic melanoma are routinely treated with immunotherapy drugs.
How Immunotherapy Treatment is Matched – an Illustration
In October, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the immunotherapy drug Prembolizumab (“Keyturda”) for cancer patients suffering from metastatic lung tumors together with companion diagnostics. The companion diagnostics detect and quantify the protein PD-L1, a protein above the tumor cells surface, which has been found to be a biological marker for treatment response. In patients suffering from metastatic lung cancer, the expression of PD-L1 is tested before treatment. Only if the protein is positively expressed will the patient receive treatment.
It is known that tumor cells express the PD-L1 protein on their surfaces, and that the protein PD-1 is present on cells of the immune system. When the immune cell attaches itself to the cancer cell to destroy it, the PD-1 protein binds to the PD-L1 protein on the tumor cell. This binding of proteins releases suppressive signals into the immune cell, paralyzing it. The presence of PD-L1 on the surface of cancer cells indicates that the tumor is trying (and succeeding) to ward off the immune attack.
A study (third phase) on treatment with Prembolizumab (“Keyturda”) for lung cancer was recently published. The study (Keynote – 10) included more than 1,000 patients and has once again proven that the greater the expression of the PD-L1 marker, the better and longer lasting the clinical response to immunotherapy. In fact, the marker is able to identify a group of patients (28%) who will respond impressively to immunotherapy.
In conclusion, treatment with Prembolizumab (“Keyturda”), which is an inhibitory antibody for the PD1 protein on immune cells, effectively eliminates the protein from them, and prevents the tumorous PD-L1 protein from paralyzing them, enabling the immune cells to attack and destroy the tumor, as they were meant to do.
For the first time in Israel, at Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, a unique service has been established for matching immunotherapy treatment for cancer patients. Dr. Gilad Weiner is responsible for implementing this breakthrough test.
The test is performed under the guidance of Dr. Weiner at the state-of-the-art laboratory at the Pathology Institute for Cancer Research at Ichilov. The test for the expression of the PD-L1 protein is performed with advanced, specialized machinery; including a robot brought especially from Denmark which Dr. Weiner was one of the first physicians in the world accredited to operate. This new test identifies patients for whom immunotherapy is likely to elicit a good response and improve survival rates.
Professor Ido Wolff, Head of Medical Oncology at Ichilov, “This is the only test that we as oncologists can trust in its reliability when deciding whether or not to administer “Keyturda.” Ichilov Medical Center has founded the first laboratory in Israel, and one of the first laboratories in the world, to receive accreditation for performing these tests. In such, we offer our services to patients from all over the country”.
Tailored Immunotherapy Treatment
For immunotherapy to have an optimal effect, it must be clinically matched to the patient – the right treatment for the right patient. This matching process is confirmed through the use of various technologies which are meticulously adapted for clinical use.
Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), the center of excellence for the treatment of cancer patients, tailors its immunotherapy treatment to achieve optimal results with the most appropriate treatment regimen. Our team of multidisciplinary experts is among the best in Israel and the world and provides exceptional quality medical care. You will be in safe hands here!