One of the research groups at Harvard University has come up with a novel mechanism that could help our immune system fight cancer very effectively by detecting and destroying cancer cells.
“A research group at Harvard Medical School has come up with a novel mechanism that could help our immune system fight cancer more effectively.”
The study has been published in the journal Nature, and has been based on investigating this mechanism that makes it possible for the cells of our immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells in a more optimal way.
This mechanism serves the cell to mark human genes similar to viruses and thus avoid being identified as a virus. During the investigation it was shown that “the immune system can be used to fight cancer cells in a particularly efficient way, and more effectively in lung cancer and melanoma,” explained study co-author Erez Levanon.
The vast majority of people who are treated for cancer do not respond to blockage of the immune checkpoint (the drug that blocks the proteins produced by certain types of cells in the immune system, such as T cells and some cancer cells) or develop resistance to it
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the United States, these proteins help control immune responses and are able to prevent T cells from killing cancer cells. “When these proteins are blocked, the ‘brakes’ of the immune system are released and the T cells can kill the cancer cells better,” they explained from the NCI.
Some of the immune checkpoint inhibitors are used to treat cancer, using our immune system to fight it, which is known as immunotherapy.
During the last years new anti-cancer drugs have been developed to block proteins that inhibit the immune activity against malignant tumors.
Currently the drugs used to treat cancer do not get the immune system to attack the tumor, according to the study scientists.
“The new discovery is expected to allow increased immune system activity to attack cancer cells. A number of companies have already begun to investigate to detect drugs that will work on the basis of this discovery.”
Thus, the drugs that attack the so-called ‘control points’ are very promising in the future of cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.