Cancer immunotherapy has been a revolutionizing treatment for patients who are dealing with different types of cancers. It empowers the immune system of the patient to eradicate tumors. Most of the patients respond well to this treatment and at times, they go through elongated remissions as well. However, some patients with certain types of cancer do not react to immunotherapy at all. Experts have said that improving the impact of this treatment is on high priority. A team of scientists has come up with a drug that can trigger an integrated immune response in such kind of tough tumors. They have started the clinical trial of the new drug as well. Experts believe this drug might help those cancer patients, who do not react to immunotherapy. This study has been published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It has been put together by experts from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Scientists believe that this treatment will make such tumors more receptive to the class of medicines, called immune checkpoint inhibitors. The author of the study Tobias Janowitz has said that these checkpoint inhibitors set the immune system free to find and eliminate cancer cells. The immune system usually does not work well on cancer cells, which have low levels of genetic mutation. Cancer cells with low levels of genetic mutation are not clear to the immune system. Such cancer cells cannot be exposed by the therapies, which are available at present. This is the reason these therapies keep most cancer cells out of the radar of the immune system. In the study, experts have disrupted the immunosuppressive pathway with a drug named plerixafor.
Around 24 patients have been given this drug through IV for a week. These patients have been diagnosed with pancreatic or colorectal cancer along with a low genetic mutation load. All of them have been in the advanced stage of the disease. Experts have done their biopsies before and after the treatment. The team of experts has found that vital immune cells have penetrated the tumors when patients have received plerixafor. During the observation, experts have seen that the immune system has been able to eliminate a cell type, which manages key players in the anti-cancer response. The findings of the clinical trial have been quite encouraging. The team has been able to identify some changes in those patients who have been responding well to checkpoint inhibitors.