Tumour immune cells could aid cancer therapies

A pioneering technique designed to spot differences between immune cells in tumours could speed the development of cancer treatments, research suggests. Scientists say the approach could be used to help doctors choose the best treatments for individual patients and predict which tumours are likely to respond to a particular therapy.

It could help target the use of immunotherapy - a new form of treatment that uses the body's own defences to tackle cancer. This therapy has shown great promise in recent years, but identifying which patients will respond best is a challenge for doctors.

The new approach - based on gene analysis - makes it easier to spot the range of immune cells present in a tumour. These cells could help the body detect and kill cancer when activated by certain drugs, scientists say.

Traditional treatments such as radiology do not discriminate between cell types and attack both cancerous and healthy cells, often leading to side-effects.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh analysed genes from anonymised medical databases of thousands of tumours to identify genes associated with immune cells.

This allowed them to quickly detect immune cells in a tumour based on their genetic code even when they were mixed in with harmful cancerous cells and normal cells.

They say that this resource - called ImSig - paints the best picture of tumours to date and will allow scientists to study how certain immune cell types affect cancer growth.

In future, this could help doctors decide which patients were most likely to respond to immunotherapy, experts say.

The study is published in Cancer Immunology Research and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Tom Freeman from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, who led the study, said: "Our approach, which helps us to find out exactly what cells make up a tumour is like deciphering which fruits went into making a smoothie. Although more work needs to be done before this could be used to help patients, we believe that this new technique is a step towards better understanding of tumours that could help guide patient treatment."

Ajit J Nirmal, Tim Regan, Barbara B Shih, David A Hume, Andrew H Sims, Tom C Freeman.
Immune Cell Gene Signatures for Profiling the Microenvironment of Solid Tumors.
Cancer Immunol Res November 2 2018 6 (11) 1388-1400. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0342.

Most Popular Now

Preventing tumor metastasis

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute, together with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, have taken an important step towards the dev...

A new drug could revolutionize the treatment of ne…

The international team of scientists from Gero Discovery LLC, the Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca, and Nanosyn, Inc. has found a potential drug that may pre...

Interactions discovered in cells insulating nerve …

Schwann cells form a protective sheath around nerve fibres and ensure that nerve impulses are transmitted rapidly. If these cells are missing or damaged, severe neurologi...

Breast cancer can form 'sleeper cells' after drug …

Breast cancer medicines may force some cancer cells into 'sleeper mode', allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment. These are the early...

Anniversary of the pivotal RE-LY® trial marks a de…

Boehringer Ingelheim today announces the ten-year anniversary of the RE-LY® trial publication(1-3) recognising the contribution made in the decade since by patients, heal...

Experimental validation confirms the ability of ar…

Insilico Medicine, a global leader in artificial intelligence for drug discovery, announced the publication of a paper titled, "Deep learning enables rapid identification...

AstraZeneca agrees to buy US FDA Priority Review V…

AstraZeneca announced that it has agreed to buy a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Priority Review Voucher (PRV) for a total cash consideration of $95m from a subsid...

Boehringer Ingelheim eExpands KRAS cancer program …

Boehringer Ingelheim and Lupin Limited (Lupin) announced a licensing, development and commercialization agreement for Lupin's MEK inhibitor compound (LNP3794) as a potent...

Pfizer invests half billion dollars to advance sta…

Pfizer announced an additional half billion dollar investment for the construction of its state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, North Carolina...

FDA grants Fast Track designation for Farxiga in c…

AstraZeneca today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation for the development of Farxiga (dapagliflozin) to delay the ...

The Pfizer Foundation invests in 20 organizations …

The Pfizer Foundation announced 20 grants* to help non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits and social enterprises address critical health challenges related to...

Tagrisso approved in China as a 1st-line treatment…

AstraZeneca today announced that it has received marketing authorisation from China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) for Tagrisso (osimertinib) as a 1st-...