THD NewsDesk, MASSACHUSETTS: A research team comprising of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have made a path-breaking discovery in the field of cancer immunotherapy.
Cancer immunotherapy is a therapy used in the treatment of patients wherein antibodies which inhibit the function of proteins expressed by cancer cells are injected in the form of vaccines and T cell infusions.
The investigators have developed a method to recognize potential biomarkers that can indicate the patients who are most likely to respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. The research was conducted on a batch of mice who had breast cancer tumour cells plotted in their bodies and then treated with immune checkpoint indicators.
“We first developed a resection and response bilateral tumour model in which we put one breast tumour on each side of the mouse breast. We then remove one tumour to evaluate the tumour microenvironment and we monitor the response of the other, non-resected, tumour to immune checkpoint blockade, identifying the mouse as a responder or a non-responder”, explained Dr Chen, a former fellow at MGH’s E.L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology.
The tumours containing a larger number of cancer-killing ‘cytotoxic’ T immune cells responded to the inhibitors while the number of certain immune oppressor cells get reduced soon after the treatment begins, the study suggests.
In simpler words, responding tumour cells showed the presence of the T cell activation signals, whereas, the non-responding ones indicated T cell exhaustion signals.
“Our study highlights the importance of investigating the dynamic immune modulation of the tumour microenvironment to understand the potential benefit of immunotherapy,” said Rakesh Jain, Director of the Steele Laboratories at MGH and the A.W. Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School.
This finding would enable doctors to gauge the patient’s response and identify the ones who should be referred to other treatments for cancer. Many pathologists consider the scope of this study promising as it could open pathways for discovering new treatments for cancer patients who are unreceptive to immunotherapy. The detailed findings and hypothesis of the research can be found published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
SOURCE: Medical Express