Research on Universal Cancer Vaccine

Researchers are hoping to develop a cancer vaccine to improve a patient’s immune system so they can destroy the cancer cells.

The objective of therapeutic cancer vaccines is to support and enhance a patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal cells. The first therapeutic immune cell–based cancer vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is Sipuleucel-T. Administration of this vaccine in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer lead to an increase in overall survival. Boosting T-cell responses against antigens that cause a number of diseases has been approached by autologous transfer of dendritic cells. A pilot study was conducted using dendritic cells pulsed with tumor lysate from patients with ovarian cancer. Vaccination of the patients stimulated T-cell responses to the tumor antigen led to an increase in patient survival. 

Treating Glioblastoma with CAR-T Immunotherapy

There are some promising advances in treating glioblastoma and other cancers with immunotherapy.

The most frequently diagnosed type of brain cancer in adults is glioblastoma multiforme. Despite the emergence of immunotherapeutic approaches for a number of cancers, reliable treatments that can extend overall survival of patients with glioblastoma to the two-year mark and beyond are still under investigation. There are some promising advances such as an experimental dendritic cellbased vaccine that increased the median overall survival rate from 15 months to 23 months.

Two-Pronged Antibodies Draw Immune Killers to Cancer Cells

Researchers have developed an antibody to enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

The arsenal of immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer treatment is continuing to grow. Of the immune cells and molecules used to enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer, using antibodies is gaining momentum as a strategy to target cancer cells. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida have developed an antibody with two specific functions that enhance the ability of cytotoxic T cells to target cancers cells.

New Cancer Immunotherapy Approach Seeks to Supercharge T cell Activity

An independent study [1] published by MedImmune/AstraZeneca cites the use of HemaCare leukopaks to assist in the development of a novel approach to treating cancer.

The new technique is based on an engineered protein named MEDI6383, and preliminary studies of its efficacy against cancer have been promising enough to launch a Phase 1 clinical trial.

The biggest hurdle doctors face when treating cancer is the inability of the body to distinguish between normal cells and cancer cells. Cancer cells are essentially normal cells that are damaged by mutations in particular genes. These mutations can result, first and foremost, in abnormalities in cell cycle regulation, causing cells to divide and grow uncontrollably. Mutations can also interfere with the immune system, making it difficult for immune cells to recognize cancer cells they way they would a foreign invader such as a bacteria or virus. It thus becomes very difficult to rid the body of cancer cells without damaging normal cells, which is why traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are so hard on the patient. To get around this conundrum, cancer researchers have had to devise a new set of tactics.  The result is the promising field of cancer immunotherapy, a medical discipline designed to circumvent cancer cell-induced immune suppression by provoking an enhanced anti-tumor response.

Prevent Recurring Tumors with Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is becoming a promising treatment approach for cancer patients with recurring tumors, and more studies will help to further develop the treatment options.

Surgical resection is still the first-line treatment for solid tumors despite the rate of tumor recurrence with this approach. Surgery to remove tumors provokes wound healing processes that promote local immunosuppressive environments and metastasis. Surgical resection of tumors can also remove beneficial immune cells and factors that could promote targeting and killing of tumor cells. Radio- or chemotherapy as an adjunct to surgery has some limited effects on distant metastasis, but these treatments are associated with significant systemic adverse effects. 

Versatility and Specificity of CAR-T Cell Cytokines

In chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell immunotherapy, T cells are obtained from a patient and genetically modified to express specific receptors (CARs) against tumor antigens. The best studied and successful CAR-T cells target the CD19 antigen on neoplastic B cells. However, this targeted approach gives quite variable results. The secretion by CD19 CAR-T cells of various cell signaling molecules varies between patients and individual CAR-T cells. The question then is how to measure the ability of CD19 CAR-T cells to release signals, after a specific antigenic challenge and correlate that to patient responses.

CAR-T: The Designer Tumor Therapy Frontier

Personalized medicine is taking new and powerful forms in the field of immunotherapy. The technology behind making customized tumor-destroying cells, thought of not long ago as science-fiction, is now a reality. [1,2] Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells, or CAR-T cells, are designer, precision built personal immunotherapeutic agents that target an individual’s tumor. The use of CAR-T cells is a means of using the body’s own immune system arsenal to attack cancer cells.

T Cell Stimulatory vs. Polarizing Capacity of Human Primary Blood Dendritic Cell Subsets

Dendritic cells are an important component of the immune system. These cells are responsible for priming T cells for attack on antigens (disease causing agents). They are antigen-presenting cells; that is, they process and prepare the antigens for recognition and action by T cells. Results of studies using primary blood dendritic cells show that they have promise in cancer immunotherapy.

Getting personal with your cancer therapy

For many years, cancer therapy has been tackled with a more or less universal approach. The drawback of this approach to therapy is the wide range of different responses to a given therapy. The concept of personalized medicine, tailoring treatment to a patient’s specific characteristics, has been envisioned and desired for many years. It is now being studied and implemented to increase successful responses to therapy, including cancer therapy.

Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy Gets a Boost

A new strategy significantly increases the efficacy of dendritic cell immunotherapy against high grade glioma, a severe type of brain cancer. The key: pre-exposing the therapy to glioma cells undergoing immunogenic cell death.

High grade glioma (HGG) is a malignant brain cancer that is characterized by tumorous growth of glial cells, non-neural cells surrounding the neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system. HGG is accompanied by a heartbreakingly poor prognosis and the current lack of a cure. Hundreds of children are diagnosed every year with HGG in Europe and North America.