According to a recent study, since there has been a growing interest in utilizing the body's own immune system to combat tumor cells, a method that has the possibility of being very effective without the side effects typically caused by standard chemotherapy has been discovered.
Skin cancers have been successfully treated by utilizing a topical cream, imiquimod, which employs immune cells through a molecule known as toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), a protein that identifies foreign and potentially harmful substances.
Previously, researchers in Manchester have demonstrated that they can also inspire the immune system into producing an immune response against non-skin cancers by injecting an agent resembling TLR7 into the bloodstream.
In cooperation with AstraZeneca and Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, the Manchester group have observed another molecule that activates TLR7, known as DSR-6434. Using mouse models of two different forms of cancer, the researchers examined DSR-6434 on its own and in accordance with radiotherapy and measured the effect on the primary tumor and the number of secondary tumors in the lungs.
"We have already seen a strong immune system response from other immunotherapy agents in combination with radiation, this new agent appears to be even more potent," said Professor Ian Stratford, from Manchester Pharmacy School.
Stratford, along with Professor Tim Illidge, led the research published in the International Journal of Cancer.
His research team demonstrated that by administering DSR-6434 in combination with radiotherapy led to tumor reduction and increased long-term survival. They also discovered that the combination treatment also diminished the rate of occurrence of secondary lung tumors.
"It looks like there's good reason to use radiotherapy alongside immunotherapy agents in the treatment of solid tumors. These results strongly suggest that this sort of combination therapy should be evaluated in clinical trials with cancer patients," noted Stratford.