2 September 2016
A new study has demonstrated how a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy techniques can be used to potentially eliminate the risk of cancer recurrence.
Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University treated breast cancer cells with a common chemotherapeutic agent, with the result that nearly all of the cells died, but with a residual population of tumour cells surviving and becoming dormant.
However, whereas chemotherapy alone led to two types of dormant cancer cells becoming resistant to additional chemotherapy, it was shown that immunotherapy - a method that involves using the body's own immune response to attack cancer - could help.
A subsequent bout of immunotherapy resulted in a majority of dormant cells also being destroyed, indicating that the best way to apply this technique as a cancer prevention tool is during tumour dormancy, allowing for the prevention of advanced-stage disease.
Masoud Manjili, a researcher from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, said: "This new study demonstrates the importance of this concept of exploiting the immune system in cancer to target residual disease that our cancer drugs miss."
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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