Breakthrough Cancer Therapy

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Breakthrough Cancer Therapy
Breakthrough Cancer Therapy

Video: Breakthrough Cancer Therapy

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Video: Clinical trials: Breakthroughs in cancer treatment | Focus On Cancer S1E3 2023, February
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Breakthrough cancer therapy

Russian scientists commented on the discovery of the Nobel Prize winners in medicine and physiology. Groundbreaking research in cancer treatment has created a new area of ​​expertise and triggered new drugs. However, it will be possible to effectively apply it in clinical practice only by switching to personalized immuno-oncology, experts say.

Breakthrough cancer therapy
Breakthrough cancer therapy

Photo: Charles River Laboratories /

Russian scientists have commented on the discovery of the 2018 Nobel Prize winners in medicine and physiology. Pioneering research in cancer treatment has created a new area of ​​knowledge in oncology and has become a trigger for the development of new drugs. However, it will be possible to effectively apply it in clinical practice only by switching to personalized immuno-oncology, experts say.

What is it and what is the novelty of the technique

The discovery of cancer therapy with a formulation that is not easy for a non-specialist to perceive "by inhibiting negative immune regulation" was discussed in the framework of the NobelTalk @SechenovUniversity university project.

In short, the current Nobel laureates have studied the ability of the immune system to destroy tumor cells by “unleashing” certain immune cells. In particular, James Ellison in 1995 discovered the CTLA-4 protein, which is a kind of "brake" for cells of the immune system (T-lymphocytes). Normally, this is necessary so that lymphocytes do not attack the body's own cells. The very next year, a group led by Alisson learned to turn off this protein with special antibodies. As a result of this treatment, our immune system begins to fight more actively against tumor cells.

A few years earlier, Tasuku Honjo became interested in another protein, PD-1. It also affects the readiness of the immune system to fight the tumor and was discovered by the Honjo group on the surface of T-lymphocytes. The significance of this protein is that cancer cells are able to block it, which instantly makes them invisible to the immune system. Thanks to the discovery, special drugs have been developed that interfere with the ability of tumor cells to block PD-1. This restores the body's ability to see and kill out-of-control tumor cells.

Using this approach, two teams of scientists were able to defeat several very common forms of cancer in mice. The new method is already being actively implemented in relation to human tumors, promising a significant breakthrough in cancer therapy.

Not suitable for everyone

Immuno-oncology is a very promising direction, changing the paradigm of treatment of many diseases and allowing to achieve an effect that is not comparable with the methods used today in routine practice. An important property of immuno-oncological drugs is the versatility of their action - one molecule is suitable for the fight against different types of cancer. So, among the already registered there is a drug for six different indications at once, including for such difficult-to-treat diseases as non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma and kidney cancer.

However, in practice, immuno-oncological drugs do not help everyone in the fight against a tumor: in some patients they do not give an effect, in some, fortunately, in a very small percentage of cases, they cause an explosive growth of a tumor, said the vice-rector for research at Sechenov University, head OncoTarget Personalized Oncology Center at Sechenov University Marina Sekacheva.

“We are at the beginning of our journey to study the efficacy and safety of these drugs,” Sekacheva said. - Sechenov University is also actively engaged in the study of immuno-oncology. The University is working on a personalized selection of immuno-oncological drugs, based on the search for predictors of response and effectiveness. Our task is to find markers, distinctive features of a tumor and an organism, which will allow us to predict the response. Only by creating such a strategy of personalized immuno-oncology, we will be able to use the discovery of the Nobel laureates in clinical practice with maximum efficiency."

Another question that scientists have to answer is how to optimally combine immuno-oncology with classical methods of anticancer treatment, for example, with radiation therapy. To date, a lot of data has been accumulated on this issue, but they are all scattered. To process this data, the University has created a Computer Oncology group, which, using mathematical modeling techniques, is working to create a predictive model for the interaction of immuno-oncological processes with the processes occurring during radiation therapy.

When will immuno-oncology become available in Russia?

Determining the categories of patients for whom specific immuno-oncological drugs will be effective is also important for the budget from which the therapy will be financed (today, one bottle of an immunological drug for a cancer patient costs thousands of dollars, and the course of treatment is tens of thousands). And for the patients themselves: artificial "disinhibition" of immunity is always associated with the risk of triggering autoimmune diseases. It is clear that completely harmless drugs do not exist without side effects. But if the new drugs are also ineffective, this could discredit the method.

According to an international expert working with WHO, in order to determine strictly defined groups of patients who are indicated for this type of therapy and to clarify the characteristics of the tumor, it is necessary to create a patient testing system and open specialized laboratories in Russia. Prescribing this therapy to untested patients is not justified, and even with significant budget costs, it will not be possible to achieve the desired effect.

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