New clinical trial will test immunotherapy for type of HPV infection

doctor and patient talking

Vulvar high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) is caused by chronic infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16. Patients with vulvar HSIL have an increased risk of developing cancer. Lesions are usually treated surgically. However, the vulvar lesions commonly recur because of persistent systemic infection with HPV. Christian Hinrichs, M.D., a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar in the Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch is leading a study of a systemic immunotherapy directed at killing the HPV infection causing vulvar HSIL. T cells are harvested from the patient’s own blood and genetically engineered to express a receptor that recognizes the E6 protein, which is essential for cancer formation, on cells infected with HPV-16. The genetically engineered T cells are then put back into the patient. Investigators hope that a one-time treatment with these modified T cells can clear the HPV infection and cause HSIL lesions to regress. Dr. Hinrichs says, “We are excited about this clinical trial, which is the first to use a personalized CAR T-cell-like therapy to try to cure women of this disease.”

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Summary Posted: Tue, 08/01/2017