Israeli Study Sparks a New Hope for Cancer Immunotherapy

Israeli Study Sparks a New Hope for Cancer Immunotherapy

A research team of Israeli and US scientists has now discovered a new method of detecting cancer cells so as to enable treatment with readily available medication. In their new study, the team proposes a novel approach in finding the so-called cancer hotspots, which are common in a large number of cancer patients and can pave the way for successful immunotherapy.

The immune response to a tumor entails the activation of T-cells, which then attack any unfamiliar structures in the system, such as cancer cells. The hotspots are located on the external membranes of cancer cells and contain mutation-derived antigens, or neoantigens, which activate the T-cells.

Since these neoantigens are not easily detectable, the team guided by Dr. Aviyah Peri and Prof. Yardena Samuels conducted a data-based study focused on examining the genomes of skin cancer patients, searching for neoantigens that could qualify as hotspots. Once they extracted the mutated parts of eligible molecules, the team checked if these structures could trigger T-cell activation.

They identified a neoantigen present in approximately 20% of melanoma patients and identified the T-cell receptor, which can detect the neoantigen in such patients. Additional experiments have proven that those tumor cells which contained the neoantigen were effectively destroyed upon T-cell activation.

Samuels stated that the study offers the possibility of pre-preparation of T-cell receptors for treating a larger number of patients affected with tumors displaying this type of neoantigen, which is more practical and cost-effective than engineering personalized treatments for each case. This method of hotspot immunotherapy also promises more success in complete tumor clearance.

Samuels is hopeful that their approach would be introduced in hospitals and used to treat cancer types other than melanoma.

Photo by Peter Boccia on Unsplash

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