Transplant drug could boost brain tumour treatments

30 September 2014

A new study has suggested that a drug commonly used in transplants could help brain tumour patients. The pharmaceutical would work by boosting the impact of new immune-based therapies, according to the new research.

Rapamycin is used to prevent the immune systems' of transplant patients from rejecting the new organ, but researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School have shown that adding it to an immunotherapy approach could strengthen the immune response to fight brain tumour cells.

The drug also increased the immune system's "memory" cells so that they would be ready to attack the tumour if it reappeared. During animal studies, it was also found that the subjects who received rapamycin lived longer than those that didn't.

Published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the findings show that combining rapamycin and gene therapy enhanced their ability to summon immune cells called CD8+ T cells to kill tumours directly. This meant that the cancerous cell shrank and the subjects lived longer.

The team now plans to combine rapamycin and clinical gene therapy in immunotherapy trials to improve the treatment of brain tumours. 

Posted by Edward Bartel

 

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