Tag Archives: Cancer Immunotherapy

New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors

New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors
New Research Using a Molecule to Target Proteins that Grow Cancer Tumors

One of the benefits of immunotherapy for cancer is that it doesn’t carry the same debilitating side effects as more traditional treatments. Researchers in Australia made a significant breakthrough in the field with its work on “designer molecules” that inhibit growth of cancer cells.

Stopping Cancer at “Ground Zero”

The study, conducted by a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Adelaide, involved a protein called proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). PCNA’s donut-like shape lets DNA slide through its center, where it is then replicated.

As explained by project leader Dr. John Bruning, while PCNA is required for DNA replication, it’s overexpressed in 90 percent of all cancers. The team set out to find a way to target PCNA, thereby preventing cancer cells from multiplying.

Creating a Barrier to Cancer Cell Proliferation

Bruning’s team successfully created a drug-like molecule using a protein that naturally interacts with PCNA. They were also able to change the chemistry to keep it from degrading as it does in its natural form.

PCNA rarely mutates, making it less likely to develop resistance against the “designer molecule,” which has demonstrated greater effectiveness than previous forms of PCNA inhibitors with less chance of side effects.

According to Bruning, the use of a natural protein in the creation of the molecule allows for more precise targeting of PCNA. Bruning is hopeful that his team’s work will usher in the development of a whole new class of drugs.

Immunotherapy for Cancer at Issels®: Using the Body’s Own Resources

Our immunotherapy for cancer programs boost the ability of the body’s immune system to fight tumors. Visit our website to learn more.

Liver Cancer Rates Rise and Becomes the Sixth Deadliest Cancer

Liver Cancer Rates Are Rising
Liver Cancer Rates Are Rising

Thanks in part to the improved effectiveness of immunotherapy cancer treatment, overall death rates due to this disease have been dropping over the past few decades. Unfortunately, liver cancer death rates have been going in the opposite direction.

Liver Cancer Death Rates Climb

According to a July 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), death rates for all forms of cancer combined have declined since 1990. But in the period from 2000-2016, liver cancer death rates for ages 25 and up rose a dramatic 43 percent.

The increase breaks down to 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 compared to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000. As a result, liver cancer moved from the ninth-leading cause of cancer deaths up to the sixth spot.

Behind the Numbers

Patients with other types of cancer, such as breast, lung and colon, have benefited from better diagnostic and treatment procedures. In addition, lower rates of people are developing these forms of cancer than in the past.

The same can’t be said for liver cancer. Rates of developing this disease have remained fairly steady, while diagnostic and treatment methods are not as effective as those for other cancers.

Within overall liver cancer death rates, the numbers were highest for adults aged 75 and up. Dr. Jeffery Drebin, liver cancer surgeon at NYC’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explains that it’s primarily due to long-term effects of liver inflammation.

Personalized Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Our immunotherapy cancer treatment programs are individually created to address the needs of patients with liver cancer and other therapy-resistant tumors. Contact us for more information.

Research: New Blood Test ID’s Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse

Research: New Blood Test ID's Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse
Research: New Blood Test ID’s Breast Cancer Patients Who May Relapse

In addition to fighting primary tumors, immunotherapy for cancer aims to prevent future recurrence. Scientists recently made a major breakthrough with the discovery of an indicator of possible relapse in patients with HR-positive breast cancer.

Searching for Clues to Breast Cancer Recurrence

Breast cancer treatment has improved significantly, but unfortunately many women are subject to recurrence five years or more beyond the original diagnosis. The risk is even higher in the case of HR-positive breast cancer, which constitutes more than 50 percent of all breast cancer cases.

A team at Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York conducted a study of circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, in breast cancer patients. Blood samples came from participants in a previous trial combining a vascular endothelial growth factor called bevacizumab with chemotherapy in post-surgery treatment.

Could a Blood Test Be the Answer?

At the time of the previous trial, none of the participants displayed evidence of recurrence. After a median follow-up period of 1.6 years, the team found nearly 20 times increased risk of recurrence in HR-positive patients who also had a positive CTC assay result. There was no corresponding increase in patients with HR-negative breast cancer.

According to team leader Dr. Joseph A. Sparano, the team was surprised to see that the rate of recurrence was so high. Scientists are now planning to study negative CTC tests to determine if they can serve as negative predictor markers.

Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment for Advanced Tumors

Thanks to our state-of-the-art immunotherapy for cancer treatments, many patients with Stage 4 breast cancer have been able to achieve long-term remission. Contact us for more information.

Personalized Immunotherapy: The Future for Cancer Treatment One Story

Immunotherapy is Changing Cancer Treatment Again in Exciting New Ways
Immunotherapy is Changing Cancer Treatment Again in Exciting New Ways

At Issels®, we recognize that successful cancer treatment is designed for a patient’s individual needs. This immunotherapy approach recently saved the life of one woman whose recurring breast cancer was spreading to other parts of her body.

“Two to Three Months to Live”

In 2003, Judy Perkins of Port St. Lucie, Florida underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Just over two years ago the cancer returned, resulting in tennis-ball-sized tumors throughout her torso, including the lymph nodes.

This time around, Perkins was treated by Dr. Steven Rosenberg and his team at the National Cancer Institute. Rosenberg’s career has been devoted to the field of immuno-oncology, which involves finding ways to help the body’s own immune system attack and destroy cancer cells.

Weaponizing the Immune System

Rosenberg and his team began by obtaining samples of the tumors to sequence DNA and analyze tumor-fighting immune cells called lymphocytes. The scientists were then able to identify the specific gene mutations that allowed cancer cells to multiply and spread.

After determining which lymphocytes were most effective against the mutations, the team grew those cells in the lab and re-introduced them to Perkins’ system. In addition to doses of interleukin 2 and an immunotherapy drug approved by the FDA in 2017, Perkins received one last round of chemotherapy.

All tumors disappeared, and Perkins remains cancer-free today. Rosenberg is optimistic that this success will propel immunotherapy research to more breakthroughs.

Personalized, Integrative Cancer Treatment at Issels®

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Autoimmune Disease May Hold a Key for More Effective Immunotherapy Treatments

Research is Under Way to Cross Out Cancer
Research is Under Way to Cross Out Cancer

Thanks to their ability to avoid detection by the immune system, cancer cells are able to rapidly reproduce and spread. In a major breakthrough, scientists have discovered that a gene associated with hair loss could provide valuable clues to improve immunotherapy for cancer.

Autoimmune Disease: The Other Side of the Coin

Ironically, a research team at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) turned to the autoimmune disease alopecia areata as the topic of their recent study, published last June in Cell Systems. While cancer is marked by failure of the immune system, alopecia represents the opposite situation, an immune system in overdrive.

Alopecia results in immune cells attacking and destroying healthy hair cells. During previous research, the CUIMC team isolated a gene called IKZF1 that causes overproduction of T cells in the immune system.

“Flipping the Switch” on the Immune System

In the latest study, the scientists demonstrated that IKZF1 is turned off in many cancer cells. The team then set out to test their theory that activating IKZF1 would trigger T cells to begin attacking tumors.

The study broke down into two parts:

– When a mouse model of melanoma was engineered to express IKZF1, the corresponding tumors revealed increased levels of immune cells.

– Analysis of data from a previous study of melanoma patients showed higher recurrence in those with disabled IKZF1.

Immunotherapy for Cancer: A Personalized Treatment

Immunotherapy for cancer programs at Issels® are focused on boosting your body’s own immune system, so they’re not accompanied by the side effects that frequently accompany conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Visit our website for more information.

New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer’s Progression

New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer's Progression
New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer’s Progression

Scientists have embraced immuno oncology research as an avenue for more effective cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the field took a temporary hit recently when Incyte pulled the plug on its latest immunotherapy drug trial.

Arming the Body’s Immune System

Incyte had high hopes for epacadostat, which works as an IDO inhibitor. IDO is an enzyme found in the body that prevents T cells in the immune system from attacking cancer cells.

In the trial, epacadostat was paired with Keytruda, a phenomenally successful immunotherapy drug from Merck. Keytruda is a checkpoint inhibitor that helps T cells recognize cancer cells, which often evade detection.

It was hoped that epacadostat would boost the effectiveness of Keytruda when taken alone. But not only did epacadostat fail to stop the progression of cancer, it had no positive effect on overall survival rates.

Is There Still Hope for Epacadostat?

While the original trial failed against melanoma, Incyte is hoping to conduct further tests with epacadostat in treating other forms of cancer. As explained by Dr. Jason Luke, an oncologist at the University of Chicago, the patient sample may have been too broad.

According to Dr. Luke, immunotherapy benefits patients with T cell-inflamed tumors. The key is to test epacadostat on patients who have a natural immune response, which can be determined via RNA-based sequencing.

Yale University oncologist Dr. Roy Herbst says the setback will not affect the enthusiasm for immunotherapy. He emphasizes that these cancer treatments are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Personalized Immuno Oncology Programs at Issels®

Our non-toxic immunotherapy programs have always been tailored individually to address each patient’s specific needs. Contact us for more information.