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Expert Point of View: Ryan J. Sullivan, MD


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Ryan J. Sullivan, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, told The ASCO Post that tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) cell therapy is likely to become a standard practice in the field.

“Despite the high-risk features, nearly one-third of patients had an objective response to this treatment, and most importantly, these responses seem to be durable,” commented Dr. Sullivan, who noted that approximately 15% to 20% of patients had a durable benefit. “Patients who are refractory to checkpoint inhibitor therapy at this stage need another option, and with lifileucel, we’re seeing a durable benefit in a sizable minority of patients.”

Ryan J. Sullivan, MD

Ryan J. Sullivan, MD

“Ipilimumab changed the field 12 years ago, with similar durable benefits,” Dr. Sullivan continued. “Having 20% of patients achieve long-term disease control in a refractory population is impressive.”

According to Dr. Sullivan, given previously published randomized phase II data involving a similar approach and the cohort size of this study, additional studies are not necessarily needed for lifileucel to obtain approval as a single agent. However, he noted, future studies combining TIL cell therapy with checkpoint inhibitor therapy may be worthwhile for this refractory population.

“This is just the beginning of TIL therapy,” Dr. Sullivan concluded. 

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Sullivan has received consulting fees from Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer; and has received research funding from Merck.

 


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