SARANAC LAKE - New research from the laboratory of a former Trudeau Institute scientist has promising implications for improving a cancer treatment known as cellular immunotherapy.
Edward Pearce's findings were published recently in The Journal of Immunology. Pearce left the institute last year for Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., but Trudeau officials said most of this research was completed at the institute before his departure. The author of the study is Eyal Amiel, a postdoctoral fellow at Trudeau who had worked with Pearce and remained at the institute.
One of the major hurdles in treating cancer patients is the fact that most cancers actively suppress the body's immune system, stifling the patient's ability to fight the disease. To overcome this obstacle, treatments have been designed to harvest immune cells from the cancer patient's blood, activate these cells outside the patient and then inject the activated cells back into the patient to jump-start the immune response against the cancer.
Studying melanoma cancer in mice, Trudeau researchers found that activating immune cells in the presence of a class of drugs that affects cell metabolism can further boost the ability of cellular immunotherapy treatments that combat melanoma tumors.
"We found that this cellular drug treatment increases the activation period of the immune cells," Amiel said in a press release, "so that when we inject them back into mice bearing melanoma tumors, we get larger immune responses against the tumors and better control of tumor growth."
The institute says ongoing investigations from the study's authors will lead to human trials, which could improve immunotherapy treatments for those affected by many types of cancer.