Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Immune Therapy Treats Brain Tumors in Mice Successfully

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Using an artificial protein that stimulates the body's natural immune technique to fight cancer, a research team at Duke Medicine has engineered a deadly weapon that kills brain tumors in mice while sparing other tissue. If it can be shown to work in humans, it would overcome a major hindrance that has hampered the effectiveness of immune-based therapies.

This work represents a revival of a elderly idea that targeting cancer with tumor-specific antigens may well be the most effective way to treat cancer without toxicity, said senior author John H. Sampson, M.D., PhD, a neurosurgeon at The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Middle at Duke. "But there's been issues with that approach, for brain tumors. Therapeutic agent is thrilling, because it acts like Velcro to bind T-cells to tumor cells and induces them to kill without any negative effects on surrounding normal tissues.

Sampson and colleagues focused on the immune approach in brain tumors, which are notoriously difficult to treat. Despite surgical procedure, radiation and chemotherapy, glioblastomas are universally deadly, with a median survival of 15 months.

Immunotherapies, in which the body's B-cells and T-cells are triggered to assault tumors, have shown promise in treating brain and other cancers, but have been problematic in clinical use. Treatments have been difficult to administer at therapeutic doses, or have spurred side effects in which the immune method also assaults healthy tissue and organs.

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