PORTLAND, Ore. — Doctors at the Providence Cancer Institute (PCI) in Portland are celebrating the successful application of a new immunotherapy to drastically reduce a patient’s tumor size.
The treatment, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, came about when Kathy Wilkes of Florida reached out to Providence from across the country. Her pancreatic cancer was back and had metastasized into her lungs.
“I knew I did not want to continue doing chemo, it would not save my life,” Wilkes said in an interview with Providence. “It might prolong it, but not the quality of life I would want, so I researched immunotherapy.”
The adoptive cell therapy involved drawing Wilkes’ blood, then isolating her immune system’s T cells. Those cells were reprogrammed to target a specific mutation of her cancer cells. Doctors multiplied the invigorated T cells and infused 16 billion of them back into Wilkes in June 2021.