Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have made significant strides in cancer immunotherapy by identifying an allergy pathway that, when blocked, boosts antitumor immunity in mouse models of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
This breakthrough, described in the journal Nature, could improve treatment outcomes for lung cancer patients.
The study found that an Interleukin-4 (IL-4) receptor-blocking antibody called dupilumab, commonly used to treat allergies and asthma, enhanced patients’ immune responses when combined with immunotherapy.
In a preliminary human study, one out of six patients experienced significant tumor reduction.
Immunotherapy using checkpoint blockade, such as PD1 inhibitors, has transformed NSCLC treatment, but its effectiveness is limited, with only about a third of patients responding to it.
The research focused on identifying molecular immune programs that could enhance tumor response to checkpoint blockade.
Using single-cell technologies, the researchers discovered that immune cells within lung cancers exhibited characteristics of a ‘type 2’ immune response, commonly associated with allergies.
This insight led them to investigate whether repurposing an allergy medication like dupilumab could enhance the tumor response to checkpoint blockade.
The study revealed that IL-4 blockade with dupilumab improved lung cancer response to checkpoint blockade in mouse models and in six lung cancer patients with treatment-resistant disease.
One patient saw remarkable results, with almost all cancer disappearing after just three doses of dupilumab, maintaining control over 17 months later.
While these findings are promising, larger clinical trials are needed to validate dupilumab’s efficacy in treating NSCLC.
The research team is expanding clinical trials to include a larger group of lung cancer patients and searching for biomarkers to predict who may benefit from dupilumab treatment.
Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, CEO and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), expressed support for the research and its potential to enhance checkpoint blockade responses.
CRI funds cutting-edge research across the discovery continuum, from the lab to clinical implementation, to transform lives and offer new hope in cancer treatment.
If you care about lung health, please read studies about marijuana’s effects on lung health, and why some non-smokers get lung disease and some heavy smokers do not.
For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
The research findings can be found in Nature.
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