New immunotherapy discovery allows for personalised cancer treatment

4 March 2016

Scientists have discovered unique genetic markers in cancer cells that could make it possible to create individually-tailored immunotherapies.

A team from Cancer Research UK and the Rosetrees Trust have analysed data from hundreds of cancer patients, finding unique variations representing the very earliest mutations of the disease that can be found in all cells of the tumour.

Specialised immune cells called T-cells were then taken from two patients with lung cancer that can recognise these common flags present on every tumour cell. If activated by a new therapy, they could potentially target all the tumour cells at once, based on the disease's genetic signature.

In future, this could lead to the development of a vaccine to activate T-cells to wipe out cancer, as well as making it possible to harvest, grow and administer T-cells that recognise the antigens common to every cancer cell.

Professor Charles Swanton, co-author from University College London's Cancer Institute and a Francis Crick Institute scientist, said: "This is really fascinating, and takes personalised medicine to its absolute limit where each patient would have a unique, bespoke treatment."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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