Researchers find success with new immune approach to fighting some cancers

June 13, 2012, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

A national research collaboration of senior researchers, including a researcher from Moffitt Cancer Center, has found that 20 to 25 percent of "heavily pre-treated" patients with a variety of cancers who enrolled in a clinical trial had "objective and durable" responses to a treatment with BMS-936558, an antibody that specifically blocks programmed cell death 1 (PD-1). PD-1 is a key immune "checkpoint" receptor expressed by activated immune cells (T-cells) and is involved in the suppression of immunity.

The clinical trial, designed to assess the anti-tumor activity and safety of the treatment, was conducted with the help of 296 patients with a variety of cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma and renal cell cancer, among others. Study results were published in a recent article in The .

According to study co-author Scott J. Antonia, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Thoracic Oncology Program and co-chair of the Immunology Program at Moffitt, tumors can develop multiple to evade natural destruction by the body's immune system. Tumors may do this by exploiting a variety of that lead to "immune checkpoints" where immune responses that might get through the checkpoints and otherwise help destroy are, instead, terminated.

"There have been recent intensive efforts to develop immunotherapeutic approaches to treat cancer, including efforts to develop immune-checkpoint-pathway inhibitors," Antonia said. "A particular challenge in has been to find the mechanism-based biomarkers that could be used to identify patients whose tumors are candidates for immune treatment."

For evidence that this approach is working, the study authors pointed to the recent success of the drug ipilimumab, an immune checkpoint pathway inhibitor that has been effective for many patients with advanced melanoma.

Their study results, Antonia said, suggested that tumors expressing the PD-1 ligand - PD-L1 (a ligand is binding molecule) - is an important candidate molecular marker. For example, in patients with PD-L1-positive tumors, the response to BMS-936558 was 36 percent, as opposed to no response in patients with PD-L1-negative tumors.

Among the 296 patient volunteers in whom responses could be evaluated, complete or partial responses resulted for those with non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma or . The researchers concluded that the anti-PD-1 antibody was safe, effective and the responses were "durable."

Explore further: Cancer therapy that boosts immune system ready for wider testing

Related Stories

Cancer therapy that boosts immune system ready for wider testing

June 2, 2012
Two clinical trials led by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers in collaboration with other medical centers, testing experimental drugs aimed at restoring the immune system's ability to spot and attack cancer, have ...

New immune therapy shows promise in kidney cancer

June 4, 2012
An antibody that helps a person's own immune system battle cancer cells shows increasing promise in reducing tumors in patients with advanced kidney cancer, according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Study reveals trigger that may speed melanoma growth

March 28, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Growth of the deadly skin cancer melanoma may be triggered by the immune system turning on itself, according to a new study that also identified the mechanism that causes this to happen.

Combination antibody therapy shows promise in metastatic melanoma

June 4, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A duo of drugs, each targeting a prime survival strategy of tumors, can be safely administered and are potentially more effective than either drug alone for advanced, inoperable melanomas, according to ...

Study: Impediment to some cancer immunotherapy involves the free radical peroxynitrite

September 30, 2011
Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues have found that tumor cell resistance to a specific cancer immunotherapy designed to kill cancer cells can be blamed on a mechanism that involves the ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.