immunotherapy for melanoma | Siteman Cancer Center is one of the first centers in the nation to offer a newly approved cell-based immunotherapy for melanoma. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy is for patients with metastatic melanoma that can’t be treated by surgery and has continued to grow and spread. “These types of cell-based immunotherapies have been very impactful in blood cancers,” says Dr. George Ansstas, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University and leader of the solid tumor TIL program at Siteman. “More recently, in the solid tumor area, particularly melanoma, we have seen progress in developing effective cell-based immunotherapies, and this is the first to be FDA-approved. While metastatic melanoma treatment was revolutionized with immune checkpoint therapy—the first immunotherapy for cancer—and many of our patients do very well, at some point most patients have some kind of recurrence. Now, we have another option to offer.”

whole health approach
VA St. Louis Health Care System has opened a $4.6 million Whole Health Wellness Center at its Jefferson Barracks Division. The new center consolidates services that were previously spread across Jefferson Barracks and offers more than 11,000 square feet of newly renovated space, including individual acoustic POD Rooms for private telehealth sessions. The Whole Health Wellness Center will offer a range of services for veterans, including acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic care, mindfulness, yoga and a wide variety of classes. VA St. Louis Health Care System’s Whole Health program is one of 18 recognized flagships out of 152 VA Medical Centers nationwide. It exemplifies the VA’s whole health approach, which supports the overall well-being of an individual instead of treating specific health issues.

alzheimer’s treatment breakthrough
Researchers at Washington University have found a promising way to remove amyloid beta plaques in the brain associated with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study showed that activating immune cells called microglia with an antibody reduced plaque buildup and mitigated behavioral abnormalities in mouse models. Microglia usually engulf and destroy protein plaques, but they are inactive with Alzheimer’s, likely due to a protein present called APOE. The applied antibody keeps APOE from binding to and inactivating the receptor that usually destroys plaques. “By activating microglia generally, our antibody can remove amyloid beta plaques in mice, and it could potentially clear other damaging proteins in other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease,” explains the study’s senior author
Dr. Marco Colonna, the Robert Rock Belliveau, MD, Professor of Pathology.

accessibility and sickle cell disease
Tim Randolph, Ph.D., professor of clinical health sciences at Saint Louis University, has been named a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors. The program highlights academic inventors who have created innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, societal welfare and economic development. Randolph was recognized for his work developing more accessible diagnostics for sickle cell disease. While low cost therapies for sickle cell have been available for decades, the standard testing methods have been inaccessible by many developing countries. Randolph addressed the disparity by developing new, low-cost diagnostic techniques to detect Hemoglobin S, the causative agent of sickle cell disease, and Hemoglobin F, a hemoglobin protein induced by a common and widely available sickle cell treatment called hydroxyure. He also worked with clinic partners to make the testing available in Haiti.