New drug combo can help treat tough pancreatic cancer

Credit: Roberto Sorin / Unsplash.

In a study from Lausanne University Hospital and elsewhere, scientists found a new drug combo can break down cancer resistance to immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a way of treating cancer by reprogramming the patient’s immune system to attack the tumor.

This cutting-edge approach has significantly impacted the treatment of cancer patients, and already boasts cases of long-term remission.

Nonetheless, many patients either don’t respond to immunotherapy, or if they do, the effects are temporary, which highlights how crucial it is that we better understand the mechanisms leading to cancers resisting this kind of treatment.

In this study, researchers found a way to break down the resistance of mice with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.

This cancer is very resistant to a type of immunotherapy called checkpoint blockade, where the patient receives a drug (a checkpoint inhibitor) that blocks proteins that normally keep immune responses from being too strong, but can also prevent immune cells (T cells) from killing cancer cells.

The team evaluated a type of engineered protein-antibody fusion called an immunocytokine, which is increasingly used in immunotherapy.

They focused on the bispecific immunocytokine PD1-IL2v, which is newly developed by Roche and can home in on tumors, wherein it activates killer T cells to attack the cancer cells driving tumor growth.

The researchers combined the immunocytokine PD1-IL2v with the immune checkpoint inhibitor anti-PD-L1, thereby enhancing anti-tumor immunity against immunotherapy-resistant tumors.

Combining the two molecules resulted in increased survival rates in tumor-bearing mice, producing a more sustained therapeutic effect than just the bispecific immunocytokine by itself.

The combination improved therapeutic efficacy by reprogramming immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages and tumor vasculature to render cancer easier to detect by immune cells.

The team says these findings show a rationale for clinical trials aimed to evaluate combination therapy.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about how to reduce pancreatic cancer spread by nearly 90%, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about new way to increase the longevity of cancer survivors, and results showing vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.

The study was conducted by Douglas Hanahan et al and published in the journal Immunity.

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