Immunotherapy could prevent radiotherapy resistance

1 October 2014

Combining immunotherapy with radiotherapy could stop patients from becoming resistant to treatment, according to a new study.

The findings, published in Cancer Research, found that using the two therapies alongside each other allowed the immune system to target and destroy cancerous cells, which hadn't been killed by the initial radiotherapy. 

A team of researchers at the University of Manchester studied mice with breast, skin and bowel cancers, and overcame a number of obstacles associated with radiotherapy. Although the therapy is a successful form of treatment, but in cancer cells it can activate a 'switch' in them that tells the immune system not to destroy the disease.

Immunotherapy is able to prevent this from happening, ensuring that the immune system works to target and destroy all cancer cells.

Using their approach, the team - led by Dr Simon Dovedi - found that the mice lived longer and protected them from the disease in the future. 

Dr Dovedi, of the University of Manchester and member of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said using the body's own defences to treat cancers has "huge potential" with early trials demonstrating "exciting patient benefit".

Posted by Jeanette Royston​

 

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