Categorized | Ciencia y tecnología, Salud

New hope in the fight against cancer: use the immune system to attack tumors

New drugs presented in Chicago have reduced the tumors of patients with advanced cancer.

Combining anticancer drugs may enhance the effects

A revolution is brewing in the fight against cancer. One of the great frustrations of researchers has so far not to take advantage of the body’s immune system to attack the disease. And that tumors have a molecular shield that repels the immune system. Now, however, a new family of drugs has blocked the tumor proteins used to be resistant to the immune system and lengthen the life expectancy of patients. Most therapies used so far focus to directly attack tumor cells. The new strategy is based on enabling the immune system so that they attack those cells.

“The results are spectacular, never before seen in the history of melanoma,” said Pere Gascon, chief of oncology at the Hospital Clinic in an interview with Radio Catalonia . “There will be a before and after these drugs. Warning will have a greater impact in the world of oncology in the coming years,” says oncologist Catalan Antoni Ribas of the University of California at Los Angeles , told ‘La Vanguardia’ . Ribas has conducted one of the studies that have been done with the new drugs .

Although a few years ago to investigate this new technique, immunotherapy, several clinical trials presented this weekend at the conference of the American Society of Medical Oncology in Chicago have confirmed the potential. Researchers warn, however, that none of the new drugs that are being tested for cancer care.

Disable shield

One of these tests has extended the life expectancy of some patients after disabling the shield against the immune system of some type of lung cancer, kidney and skin that had been resistant to conventional drugs.The study was published in the journal The New England Journal of Medicine .

“It’s a different kind of therapy for cancer,” said Suzanne Topalian oncology at The New York Times . “It directly kills cancer cells, but acts through the immune system. Strengthen What we do is a response that was already there, but it was very weak and ineffective.”

In this clinical trial, done in 296 patients with advanced tumors, a compound called antibodies anti-PD-1 has a 30% shrink tumors in 18% of patients with lung cancer, 28% of patients with melanoma and 27% of patients with kidney cancer. A second study, done in 207 patients with advanced disease, the anti-PD-L1 has shrunk tumors in 10% of lung cancers, 17% of melanomas 12% of kidney cancers and 6% of ovarian cancers.

In another study led by oncologist Catalan Antoni Ribas, 52% of a group of 135 patients with advanced melanoma treated with anti-PD-1 responded to treatment. In one in five cases, the trace of cancer in the body has disappeared.

How do the drugs

Both compounds operate in a new way. Normally, when the body is faced with a threat, his immune system activates large numbers of T cells that attack and kill the intruders, but the organization must also retain control over the T cells Thus, each T cell has a receptor on their surface called PD-1. If there is a way to disable the T cells and eliminate them, these cells could return their destructive power against the body and damage it. One of the studies presented at the conference is on a compound that blocks this receptor, the anti-PD-1 antibody, which acts locking mechanism so that the cancer cells can not open it and T cells continue killing. The second study tested the compound called anti-PD-L1 antibody, which prevents cancer cells they use their own shut-down mechanisms, allowing the T cells continue killing.



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