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Immune system to fight brain tumors
By Dross at 2013-05-31 00:35
Immune system to fight brain tumors

Research at Lund University in Sweden gives hope that one of the most serious types of brain tumour, glioblastoma multiforme, could be fought by the patients' own immune system. The tumours are difficult to remove with surgery because the tumour cells grow into the surrounding healthy brain tissue. A patient with the disease therefore does not usually survive much longer than a year after the discovery of the tumour. The team has tested different ways of stimulating the immune system, suppressed by the tumour, with a 'vaccine'.

 

The vaccine is based on tumour cells that have been genetically modified to start producing substances that activate the immune system. The modified tumour cells (irradiated so that they cannot divide and spread the disease) have been combined with other substances that form part of the body's immune system. The treatment has produced good results in animal experiments: 75 per cent of the rats that received the treatment were completely cured of their brain tumours. "Human biology is more complicated, so we perhaps cannot expect such good results in patients. However, bearing in mind the poor prognosis patients receive today, all progress is important", said doctoral student Sara Fritzell, part of the research group led by consultant Peter Siesjö. She has previously tested combining the activation of the immune system with chemotherapyterm.

 

When the chemotherapy was applied directly to the tumour site, the positive effects reinforced each other, and a huge 83 per cent of the mice survived. "Our idea is in the future to give patients chemotherapy locally in conjunction with the operation to remove as much of the tumour as possible", said Sara Fritzell. Peter Siesjö is currently applying for permission to carry out a clinical study on stimulation of the immune system – with or without local chemotherapy – as a treatment for patients with glioblastoma multiforme.



6 comments | 3624 reads

by gdpawel on Mon, 2013-06-03 23:41
One year after his last treatment, a six-year-old boy with recurrent neuroblastoma is in complete remission for his high-risk metastatic cancer. Doctors reported this case study in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which was funded in part by a joint grant from the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, Pierce Phillips Charity and Solving Kids' Cancer.

Current treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma patients include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, stem cell transplant, and immunotherapy. Less than half of the children survive in spite of the intensive and toxic standard therapy. Long term survival after a relapse is less than 5%.

Previous clinical trials in adult solid tumors have successfully used cancer-specific targets (NY-ESO-1, MAGE-A1, and MAGE-A3) to kill cancer cells. Now, scientists at the University of Louisville have used these same targets for neuroblastoma by creating a vaccine that causes the body's own immune system to attack the tumor cells. Dendritic cells are immune cells collected from the patient and grown in cultures after they are exposed to specific antigens. The dendritic cells "teach" the patient's T-cells to seek out and kill the cancer cells after they are returned to the patient through a series of injections.

Cancer treatment vaccines differ from other vaccines in that they treat active cancers or help to prevent recurrence. The principal investigator for this study, Kenneth Lucas, M.D., is the division chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics. The funding provided critical support to further Dr. Lucas' ongoing work to find new treatments for neuroblastoma and other deadly childhood cancers.

In the case study, one year after the patient's last vaccination, the tumors cells that were located in the boy's bone marrow disappeared and he now shows no evidence of disease.

The study includes children with sarcomas as well as neuroblastoma, and will be completed in 2013.

For patients with relapsed neuroblastoma, there are few promising treatment options in clinical trials. More effective and less toxic treatments are desperately needed.

"This research builds on five years of pre-clinical research, which identified three new immunological targets that are specific to this pediatric cancer," said Scott Kennedy, the Executive Director of Solving Kids' Cancer. "The case study highlights the potential therapeutic progress that can be made against neuroblastoma, and brings hope to patients and their families in finding a lasting cure."

Citation: Solving Kids' Cancer. "Complete Remission Induced By Dendritic Cell Vaccine For Relapsed Neuroblastoma Patient." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 31 Jan. 2013

Immunological Research: A multi-faceted approach to curing disease

[url]http://cancerfocus.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3901

by gdpawel on Wed, 2013-06-12 23:44
Immunotherapy (also called biologic therapy or biotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Although it is not entirely clear how immunotherapy treats cancer, it may work by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, or helping the immune system increase its effectiveness at eliminating cancer cells.

There are several types of immunotherapy, including monoclonal antibodies, non-specific immunotherapies, and cancer vaccines.

Monoclonal antibodies

When the body’s immune system detects antigens (harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites), it produces antibodies (proteins that fight infection). Monoclonal antibodies are made in a laboratory, and when they are given to patients, they act like the antibodies the body produces naturally. Monoclonal antibodies are given intravenously (through a vein) and work by targeting specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells or cells that support the growth of cancer cells. When monoclonal antibodies attach to a cancer cell, they may accomplish the following goals:

Allow the immune system to destroy the cancer cell.

The immune system doesn't always recognize cancer cells as being harmful. To make it easier for the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells, a monoclonal antibody can mark or tag them by attaching to specific parts of cancer cells that are not found on healthy cells.

Prevent cancer cells from growing rapidly.

Chemicals in the body called growth factors attach to receptors on the surface of cells and send signals that tell the cells to grow. Some cancer cells make extra copies of the growth factor receptor, which makes the cancer cells grow faster than normal cells. Monoclonal antibodies can block these receptors and prevent the growth signal from getting through.

Deliver radiation directly to cancer cells.

This treatment, called radioimmunotherapy, uses monoclonal antibodies to deliver radiation directly to cancer cells. By attaching radioactive molecules to monoclonal antibodies in a laboratory, they can deliver low doses of radiation specifically to the tumor while leaving healthy cells alone. Examples of these radioactive molecules include ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin) and tositumomab (Bexxar).

Diagnose cancer.

Monoclonal antibodies carrying radioactive particles may also help diagnose certain cancers, such as colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Special cameras identify the cancer by showing where the radioactive particles accumulate in the body. In addition, a pathologist (a doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease) may use monoclonal antibodies to determine the type of cancer a patient may have after tissue has been removed during a biopsy.

Carry powerful drugs directly to cancer cells.

Some monoclonal antibodies carry other cancer drugs directly to cancer cells. Once the monoclonal antibody attaches to the cancer cell, the cancer treatment it is carrying enters the cell, causing the cancer cell to die without damaging other healthy cells. Brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris), a treatment for certain types of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is one example.

Other monoclonal antibodies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer include:

Bevacizumab (Avastin)
Alemtuzumab (Campath)
Cetuximab (Erbitux)
Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
Rituximab (Rituxan)
Panitumumab (Vectibix)
Ofatumumab (Arzerra)

Side effects of monoclonal antibody treatment are usually mild and are often similar to an allergic reaction. Possible side effects include rashes, low blood pressure, and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache, weakness, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, upset stomach, or vomiting.

Although monoclonal antibodies are considered a type of immunotherapy, they are also classified as a type of targeted treatment (a treatment that specifically targets faulty genes or proteins that contribute to cancer growth and development). Learn more about targeted treatments.

Non-specific immunotherapies

Like monoclonal antibodies, non-specific immunotherapies also help the immune system destroy cancer cells. Most non-specific immunotherapies are given after or at the same time as another cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However, some non-specific immunotherapies are given as the main cancer treatment.

Two common non-specific immunotherapies are:

Interferons. Interferons help the immune system fight cancer and may slow the growth of cancer cells. An interferon made in a laboratory, called interferon alpha (Roferon-A [2a], Intron A [2b], Alferon [2a]), is the most common type of interferon used in cancer treatment. Side effects of interferon treatment may include flu-like symptoms, an increased risk of infection, rashes, and thinning hair.

Interleukins. Interleukins help the immune system produce cells that destroy cancer. An interleukin made in a laboratory, called interleukin-2, IL-2, or aldesleukin (Proleukin), is used to treat kidney cancer and skin cancer, including melanoma. Common side effects of IL-2 treatment include weight gain and low blood pressure, which can be treated with other medications. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms.

Cancer vaccines

A vaccine is another method used to help the body fight disease. A vaccine exposes the immune system to a protein (antigen) that triggers the immune system to recognize and destroy that protein or related materials. There are two types of cancer vaccines: prevention vaccines and treatment vaccines.

Prevention vaccine. A prevention vaccine is given to a person with no symptoms of cancer to prevent the development of a specific type of cancer or another cancer-related disease. For example, Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents a person from being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus known to cause cervical cancer and some other types of cancer. It was the first FDA-approved vaccine for cancer. Cervarix is another vaccine that is approved to prevent cervical cancer in girls and women. Learn more about HPV vaccination for cervical cancer and the role of HPV in other cancers. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children should receive a vaccine that prevents infection with the hepatitis B virus, which may cause liver cancer.

Treatment vaccine. A treatment vaccine helps the body's immune system fight cancer by training it to recognize and destroy cancer cells. It may prevent cancer from coming back, eliminate any remaining cancer cells after other types of treatment, or stop cancer cell growth. A treatment vaccine is designed to be specific, which means it should target the cancerous cells without affecting healthy cells. At this time, sipuleucel-T (Provenge) is the only treatment vaccine approved in the United States. It is designed for treating metastatic prostate cancer.

Source: Cancer.Net

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