Researchers Discover New Immunotherapy Combination Effective At Killing Cancer Cells

Immunotherapy is an emerging field in the global fight against cancer, even though scientists and clinicians have been working for decades to find ways to help the body’s immune system detect and attack cancerous cells. Doug Mahoney’s lab at the University of Calgary recently discovered an immunotherapy that uses existing cancer drugs in a whole new way.

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Aug 31, 2017
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Researchers Discover New Immunotherapy Combination Effective At Killing Cancer Cells

MEDICINE & HEALTH
 Last updated Aug 30, 2017

Immunotherapy is an emerging field in the global fight against cancer, even though scientists and clinicians have been working for decades to find ways to help the body’s immune system detect and attack cancerous cells. Doug Mahoney’s lab at the University of Calgary recently discovered an immunotherapy that uses existing cancer drugs in a whole new way.

“What we found is a combination of cancer therapies that complement each other in helping the immune system clear the cancer,” says Mahoney, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Cumming School of Medicine and member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institutes. “Our results suggest that we’ve been looking at these cancer drugs the wrong way — as tumour-targeting drugs — instead of what we now feel is their most important biological role: as immune stimulating therapy.”

Cancer cells are smart; they know how to hide from the body’s own immune system. Cancer cells also know how to control certain immune cells. Like a cruel form of mind control, some cancerous tumours can reprogram some immune cells to “block” other immune cells from attacking, leaving the tumour free to grow.

Treatments aimed at revving up the immune system’s attack on the cancer may be the most promising approach to cancer therapy since combination chemotherapy. Yet studies have shown single therapies targeting only one part of the immune system have been effective in only a small percentage of patients. Results from Mahoney’s research study are consistent with many other recent findings that smart combinations of therapies are even more effective in battling some cancers.

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https://scienmag.com/researche...

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Tia Rai

Research Assistant Professor - Scientific Writing, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota

PhD

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