We mailed this letter to Dr. Rosenberg on 12/20/02
Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, Ph.D.,
Dear Dr. Rosenberg,
We wish to congratulate you on your contribution to the fight against cancer – in particular your breakthrough work in developing an effective adoptive transfer technique! Importantly, your work represents a translation of ideas into clinical practice that has benefited some very lucky patients already, and provides hopeful expectations to all patients living with cancer.
We represent patients and caregivers fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). As you know, the overwhelming majority of individuals diagnosed with NHL are not cured and endure both the symptoms of the disease and the toxicities of multiple treatments. It is particularly dire when you consider that each therapy typically results in a diminishing rate and duration of response.  Ultimately, our NHL community suffers approximately 26,300 deaths each year in the United States alone.
In this critical setting, the national attention given to your work prompts many urgent questions from the lymphoma patient community: Will the NCI initiate studies using your approach to treat NHL? If so, when will it start, and how many patients can be accommodated? If the therapy proves effective, how will it become commercially available? Will this intervention not require FDA approval because approved drugs are used to prepare the patient to receive their own immune cells?
Whatever the answers to these questions, we urge you to include NHL patients in the initial studies, because we will then learn faster about the potential it has for our community. We believe there is abundant evidence that immunotherapies can be particularly effective against NHL. For example, improved survival has been correlated with t-cell infiltrates in b-cell lymphomas [2, 3], and good preliminary data for idiotype vaccines have already led to phase III clinical testing of this immune-based therapy.
We look forward to your comments on this urgent matter.
Caregiver and Patient Advocate