This New Therapy May Teach The Immune System To Kill Tumor Cells

mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.

Image by Ani Dimi / Stocksy

Every day scientists are working to find treatment for cancer. Not that you need a reminder, but, cancer is defined as the process by which abnormal cells begin to multiply, old cells stick around, and unnecessary new cells emerge. These distorted cells often form tumors that can spread, making it difficult to treat.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital have developed a new cancer immunotherapy process that teaches the immune system to destroy tumor cells in the body.

In the new study published in Nature Medicine, the scientists injected immune stimulants into the tumor to stimulate the immune system. They saw that these stimulants then recruited and instructed dendritic cells and T-cells, both important immune systems to kill cancer cells and keep the healthy cells.

Through this process, the immune cells learned which cells to kill and could continue to kill them throughout the body. They tested what they are calling an "in situ vaccination" on patients with advanced-stage lymphoma and found that it was effective.

Even more effective was when this approach was combined with checkpoint blockade, a present immunotherapy option in which a drug blocks proteins that inhibit the killing of cancer cells.

"This method could also increase the success of other immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade," said lead author Joshua Brody, M.D., director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in a statement.

The success of this combined immunotherapy approach has prompted new clinical trials for breast, head, and neck cancer where the in situ vaccine will be used in conjunction with checkpoint blockade drugs.

The researchers are hopeful that the combination of these therapies could be particularly effective for multiple types of cancers, and with cancer being the leading cause of death worldwide, we can't think of better news.

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