New development in immunotherapy holds promise of novel treatments for cancer

02 May 2016

A new development in immunotherapy is said to promise novel treatments for cancer.

Researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane have identified an antibody or a large protein that could slow down the growth of common cancer cells.

''We are seeing the revolutionary effect of using antibodies to treat cancer patients -- particularly in tumours that we know the immune system is often active,'' lead scientist professor Mark Smyth told The Huffington Post Australia.

''We have a new target that hasn't been explored yet.''

In a four-year study, researchers performed a series of animal laboratory tests that tested and developed the antibody. The results showed that the antibody slowed down the spread of melanoma, lung, breast and prostate cancers by activating immune cells called 'Natural Killer' cells.

According to Smyth, the role of the protein was to stop immune cells from becoming ''over activated'' and attacking the body's own healthy cells.

''Antibodies inhibit a tumour from spreading and we know that this is generally what kills patients.''

According to experts the findings of the study might lead to pathways for cancer treatments that focused on immunotherapy, whereby a person's own immune system was used to treat the disease.

Meanwhile, a novel compound had shown promise in preclinical studies as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, more than doubling median days of survival even in a drug-resistant form of the disease, according to University of North Carolina Health Care System.

According to researchers at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center in Atlanta, Emory University School of Medicine, and at other institutions MRX-2843 blocked the growth of acute myeloid leukemia cells, led to a significant level of cancer cell death and more than doubled the median days of survival in laboratory models with a drug-resistant form of the disease.

MRX-2843 was designed to specifically target two cell signaling proteins called tyrosine kinases that helped drive abnormal cell growth in acute myeloid leukemia, non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma and glioblastoma.

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