Posted September 28, 2017 07:33:33Photo: Researchers hope the drug along with existing immunotherapies will enhance patient outcomes. (Supplied: University of Tasmania)
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A new cancer treatment, which boosts the body's immune system and breaks down the resistance of tumours to healthy cells, is showing promising results, researchers say.
The team from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia have been working on the problem of tumours that become resistant to the body's immune system by creating a barrier of tangled blood vessels.
These blood vessels then feed the cancerous tumour and simultaneously lock out immune cells which would attack the cancer cells.
Professor Ruth Ganss, head of the Perkins Cancer and Cell Biology Division, said the new drug treatment allowed immune cells to better reach the cancer by generating more "normal" blood vessels and creating lymph-node structures within the cancer.
Professor Ganss said the presence of the lymph node structures was significant.
"Lymph nodes, a vital component of our immune system, normally exist only outside of the cancer and work to filter cancer cells and generate white blood cells that fight infection," she said.
"Our drug strengthens the immune response against tumours by inducing these lymph-node-structures, together with normalised blood vessels, producing immune cells that infiltrate deep into the cancer.
"There are currently no single treatments which can produce these two features in cancers."
The researchers, whose work was published in the journal Nature Immunology, tested their treatment on pancreas and lung cancer models, and said they have had very promising results.
Professor Ganss said current immunotherapy was successful in about 20-30 per cent of cancer patients, and she hoped their new treatment would boost this to 70 or 80 per cent.
"[We are] very optimistic because we have shown that there are ways of bringing these immune cells, or lymphocytes, or white blood cells, it's all the same, into the cancer," she said.
"And by bringing it in, these already approved immunotherapies may work more efficiently."
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Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-28/new-cancer-drugs-showing-promise/8994484479