Personalised Immunotherapy Therapies Inching Closer- Study

In an effort to advance personalised cancer treatment, researchers have shown that biomarkers alone cannot predict which patients will benefit most from immunotherapy.

Clinicians should comprehend how immune cells and tumours are functioning within a patient rather than relying solely on the presence of related protein levels, based on a study from the Centre for Therapeutic Innovation at the University of Bath (CTI-Bath).

The study was released by the research team and colleagues from Bordeaux in the journal Cancers. Results support a quantitative imaging platform implemented at CTI-Bath that can forecast how an immunotherapy treatment for cancer patients would react.

Typically, cancers hide from the immune system’s ability to recognise them by actively suppressing the body’s natural anti-tumor response. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, a kind of immunotherapy, release the restraints the tumour has placed on the immune system. This triggers the body’s natural defence against cancer, which then kills the tumour.

The research team gathered 15 patients with advanced lung tumours who were receiving radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy in order to study the function of these immunological check point regulators in cancer patients. The size of cancers in the other lung may also shrink in some situations when tumours in the first lung are treated with RFA.

Using the immune-FRET molecular imaging tool, which Professor Larijani and colleagues in the UK and the EU developed, researchers examined ratios of the regulators and their targets with how they were interacting. The method can determine how chemicals interact in single cells and tissue samples at the nanoscale.

These interactions have never before been measured in RFA patients, and the results demonstrate that involvement did not correspond with the level of protein present. Therefore, it is unlikely to be appropriate to prescribe based on the amount of proteins present. The results show that readers can get a better picture of what is occurring within a patient by assessing involvement of immune checkpoint interplay, thus more correctly predicting level of immune deficiency and likely response to RFA treatment, rather than simply the levels of the proteins involved, said Professor Banafshe Larijani.

Ultimately, he continued, they hope this can lead to a shift in how immunotherapy is provided to RFA patients so it is tailored to a person.