Cancers can make themselves harder for new immunotherapies to see by ‘changing their spots’ – and switching off a key molecule on the surface of cells that is otherwise recognised by treatment.
Researchers found that they could test samples from patients with bowel cancer to identify which were most likely to respond to immunotherapy by assessing molecular changes within miniature tumours grown in the laboratory.
Using the mini tumours, the researchers identified existing drugs that could potentially be used in combination with immunotherapy to make it work for many more patients.
The team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust believe their findings could help increase the effectiveness of the antibody-based drug cibisatamab, and open up ways of assessing whether patients will respond to immunotherapy in the lab.
The study is published today (Monday) in the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer and was funded by Cancer Research UK and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden.
Immunotherapy is proving an exciting new way of treating cancer for a subset of patients, but there is no way currently of telling apart those who will benefit from those who will not,
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