NewsMarch 4 2024

The University of Tennessee Medical Center Leads in Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocyte (TILs) Cell Therapy

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Medical center is the first center in the State of Tennessee to offer AMTAGVI—the first FDA-approved T cell therapy for a solid tumor cancer and first treatment option for advanced melanoma after anti-PD-1 and targeted therapy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., March 4, 2024 — The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) proudly announces it is the first center in the State of Tennessee to offer TILs therapy for patients with Metastatic Melanoma. The medical center is one of only a handful of centers across the country to offer this treatment option for patients. 

Iovance Biotherapeutics’ AMTAGVI—the first and only FDA-approved T cell therapy for advanced melanoma—is a tumor-derived autologous T cell immunotherapy used in the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma previously treated with a PD-1 blocking antibody. 

AMTAGVI leads the nation as the first and only one-time, individualized T cell therapy to receive FDA approval for a solid tumor cancer. The proposed mechanism for this treatment option offers a new cell therapy approach that deploys patient-specific T cells called TIL cells. When cancer is detected in a patient, the immune system creates TIL cells to locate, attack, and destroy cancer.

"We are thrilled to offer this therapy to melanoma patients in our community," said Joshua Hickman, Director, Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program at UTMC. "Our team has worked diligently alongside our partner since May 2021 to onboard this therapy for our patients. As the first center in Tennessee to offer this treatment commercially, we have a unique benefit and ability to help change the outcomes for these patients by providing a new and differentiated therapy option."

This treatment option will enable the medical center to expand its Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program (TCT), which provides East Tennessee residents a local resource for specialized care, preventing the need to travel outside the area. The TCT Program offers state of the art and cutting-edge therapies to treat patients with complex blood cancers. With the addition of TILs therapy for Melanoma, TCT program is expanding the capability of treating solid tumor cancer patients. 

The TCT Program is part of The Cancer Institute at The University of Tennessee Medical Center, which offers the broadest spectrum of cancer specialists and services to care for our patients with complex blood cancers. Cancer patients can receive all cancer care including surgical consultations, genetic counseling/testing, chemotherapy infusions, radiation oncology, and supportive/integrative health services, all in the same building.

According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program’s 2023 estimates, approximately 8,000 people in the U.S. die from melanoma each year. 

“The accelerated approval of AMTAGVI™ is the first step in realizing Iovance’s ambition to usher in the next generation of cell therapy by bringing this breakthrough to patients with advanced solid tumors,” said Frederick Vogt, Ph.D., J.D., Interim Chief Executive Officer and President of Iovance. “Given the significant unmet needs in the advanced melanoma community, we are proud to offer a personalized, one-time therapeutic option for these patients. We are continuing our development efforts to address additional unmet medical needs in patients with solid tumor cancers, making our novel cell therapies available to more patients with melanoma and other types of cancers.”