The International Immunology Foundation (IIF) is dedicated to the study of the relationships between the immune system of the patient and his or her cancer. A major clinical focus is on one of the most promising of these relationships –the fact that a specific form of immune suppression is generated by the cancer cell to protect it from the patient’s immune system. This new understanding has led to the development of a new form of therapeutic apheresis to unblock the immune system, allowing it to destroy cancer cells. Called Immunepheresis, the technology is based on the work of M. Rigdon Lentz, MD and others who showed that cancer cells produce inhibitors that block the tumor cytotoxicity of tumor necrosis factor (TNF); that these inhibitors can be removed from the blood safely and efficiently; and that once removed, the unblocked immune system can rapidly kill cancer cells. In clinical experience this immune unblocking has yielding significant clinical responses, including complete tumor remissions.
Immune inhibition, Immunepheresis and cytokine modulation has been the focus of Dr. Lentz for the last 30 years. Early in vitro studies in the 1970’s and 80’s led to the discovery of these inhibitors. Phase I and II clinical trials of the effect of removing these inhibitors in animals and humans were completed in the late 1980’s and 90’s and demonstrated significant tumor responses. Work since 2000 has focused on perfecting the equipment and making it more cost effective, obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals for the equipment, and creating an educational format for physicians, nurses and scientists.
Clinical experience to date indicates that cytokine unblocking through Immunepheresis is at least as effective a method of killing cancer cells as chemotherapy for many patients. Importantly, there has not been a tumor type thus far observed where this immune therapy has not shown tumor response. This observation is exciting from a scientific perspective in that it suggests that the intimate association between the immune system and the malignant disease process can be altered. Not only is blocking the immune system a fundamental requisite for cancer to prosper, but Immunepheresis shows that the process is reversible.
Now that the therapeutic utility of Immunepheresis has been established, the Foundation has been created to support its further development in several key ways:
- Analysis and publication of the growing body of clinical and scientific data to stimulate discussion and peer review of the therapy among immunologists and oncologists worldwide.
- Refinement of the technology, equipment and treatment protocols to make the therapy more widely available at lower cost. The cost now compares favorably to that of chemotherapy, but at scale will be less expensive both in dollars and suffering.
- Support for practitioners, both in teaching hospitals and clinics, who wish to utilize the therapy, and generate additional data for collective analysis of therapeutic outcomes.
- Over the long term, refining the treatment plans to achieve the greatest number of enduring remissions, including exploration of adjunct therapies to support both innate and adaptive immunological responses.
Key subjects of current research supported by the foundation include:
- The role of GcMAF in macrophage antigen processing and antiangiogenesis.
- The role of Treg (suppressor T cells) in the maintenance of tumor remission.
- Identification of additional factors that affect blastoid transformation.
- The role of Vitamin D in the regulation of the inflammatory response.
- Identification of plasma proteins that effect innate immunity.
- The role of hyperthermia in augmenting innate and acquired immunity.
This website is intended to help treating physicians as well as research scientists to gain further knowledge of tumor immunology, lymphocyte/monocyte function and cytokine biology as they apply to cancer, to understand selective therapeutic apheresis as a program of cancer treatment, and to participate in, develop and improve patient outcomes. Please send your comments and questions to email@example.com.