TIL Therapy: Revolutionizing Metastatic Melanoma Treatment in Israel

In the realm of cancer treatment, especially for metastatic melanoma, Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte (TIL) therapy has emerged as a groundbreaking approach. This technique harnesses the patient's immune cells to combat cancer effectively. The process of TIL therapy involves several critical steps:

  1. Tumor Removal: Initially, the patient undergoes surgery to remove the tumor.
  2. Cell Isolation and Growth: From the extracted tumor, TILs - immune cells that have invaded the tumor - are isolated. These cells are then cultivated and multiplied in a laboratory environment, often with the aid of growth factors that accelerate their proliferation.
  3. Preparatory Chemotherapy: Before reinfusing the TILs, the patient is treated with non-myeloablative, lymphodepleting chemotherapy. This prepares the body to better accommodate the TILs.
  4. TIL Infusion and Immune Support: The patient receives an infusion of the expanded TILs. Subsequently, high doses of interleukin-2 (IL-2) are administered to promote the activity and growth of these immune cells.
  5. Post-Treatment Care: The treatment is followed by comprehensive supportive care, including transfusions and management of side effects to facilitate recovery.

At Sheba Medical Center in Israel, TIL therapy has been a beacon of hope for patients with metastatic melanoma, especially those who have not seen success with traditional treatments. The center's experience with TIL therapy spans over 18 years, making it one of the largest and most experienced centers globally for treating metastatic melanoma. With more than 200 melanoma patients treated, Sheba Medical Center's approach not only offers a chance for improvement but also potential cures, as evidenced by a substantial number of patients experiencing significant benefits or being cured.


Sheba Medical Center's methodology with TIL therapy is a testament to the potential of adoptive cell transfer immunotherapy. By leveraging the body's own immune response against cancer, TIL therapy represents a significant advancement in the fight against metastatic melanoma. The center's commitment to this innovative treatment is supported by a vast collection of patient samples and clinical data, underscoring its role as a leader in melanoma research and treatment.

Senior doctors at Sheba’s Ella institute for Melanoma

Prof Jacob Shachter (Publications)
Dr. Ronnie Shapira
Dr. Guy Ben-Betzalel

What is the success rate of TIL therapy in Sheba hospital?

The success rate of TIL (Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes) therapy at Sheba Medical Center for treating metastatic melanoma is quite significant. Approximately half of the patients treated with TIL therapy at Sheba Medical Center show positive improvements. Furthermore, a notable proportion of these patients — around 25% — are effectively cured of their melanoma. This data underscores the potential efficacy of TIL therapy in treating advanced stages of melanoma, especially in cases where conventional treatments have not yielded significant results.

What is the cost of TIL melanoma treatment in Sheba hospital?

The financial considerations for TIL melanoma treatment at Sheba Medical Center include various expenses. The medical costs for TIL treatment typically average around $120,000 USD. This figure can vary depending on the specific needs and treatment plan for each patient. Patients should also plan for additional expenses beyond the medical fees. These include accommodation, travel fares, and daily living expenses such as food during their stay. It is important for patients and their families to consider these costs when preparing for treatment at Sheba Medical Center.

What is the length of stay in Sheba hospital for TIL melanoma treatment?

Here's what you can expect regarding the duration and stages of treatment at Sheba:
  1. Testing Period (2-3 weeks): Initially, patients undergo a comprehensive evaluation to assess their condition. This includes a series of tests to determine the most suitable site for metastasis extraction, which is crucial for the TIL treatment. These tests are essential to tailor the therapy to the individual's needs, enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment for metastatic melanoma.
  2. Surgery (Duration varies): If a metastasis is identified, surgery is required to completely remove it. Depending on its location—such as skin, lung, or skeleton—the complexity of the surgery can vary. It may range from a straightforward procedure using local anesthesia to a more involved operation requiring general anesthesia. This step is critical to obtain the cells needed for the next phase of treatment.
  3. Lymphocyte Cultivation Stage (2-5 weeks): Post-surgery, the extracted lymphocytes are cultured in Sheba’s state-of-the-art laboratory to multiply to approximately 5 billion cells. During this period, patients are not required to stay at the hospital; they can return home or to their country, which allows flexibility during treatment.
  4. Hospitalization (2-3 weeks): Upon returning to Sheba, patients undergo a preparatory regimen including light chemotherapy to enhance the efficacy of the TIL infusion. Following the infusion, patients remain hospitalized to manage any side effects that arise, ensuring they receive the best possible care and monitoring.
The TIL melanoma treatment program at Sheba Medical Center is led by Dr. Guy Ben-Betzalel.

Dr. Guy Ben-Betzalel, head of Sheba TIL melanoma program with Tanya from Israeli Hospitals.

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