Toward an 'ultra-personalized' therapy for melanoma
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IMAGE: These are T cells (red) attacking melanoma cells (green). The neo-antigen-specific T cells in this image are especially effective at killing cancer cells. view more 

Credit: Weizmann Institute of Science

With new immunotherapy treatments for melanoma, recovery rates have risen dramatically, in some cases to around 50%. But they could be much higher: A new study led by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science showed, in lab dishes and animal studies, that a highly personalized approach could help the immune cells improve their abilities to recognize the cancer and kill it. The results of this study were published today in Cancer Discovery.

Today’s immunotherapies involve administering antibodies to unlock the natural immune T cells that recognize and kill cancer cells; or else growing and reactivating these T cells outside the body and returning them in a ‘weaponized’ form. “But none of this will kill the cancer if the immune cells do not recognize the ‘signposts’ that mark cancer cells as foreign,” says Prof. Yardena Samuels of the Institute’s Molecular Cell Biology Department.

Groups around the world are searching for such signposts – mutated peptides known as neo-antigens on the cancer cells’ outer membranes. Identifying the particular peptides

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