Scientists at A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) have discovered a new class of lipids in the leukemia cells that are detected by a unique group of immune cells. By recognizing the lipids, the immune cells stimulate an immune response to destroy the leukemia cells and suppress their growth. The newly identified mode of cancer cell recognition by the immune system opens up new possibilities for leukemia immunotherapy.
In a recent study reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) online, the team co-led by Dr Lucia Mori and Prof Gennaro De Libero identified a new class of lipids, methyl-lysophosphatidic acids (mLPA), which accumulate in leukemia cells. Following which, the team identified a specific group of immune cells, described as mLPA-specific T-cells that are capable of recognising the mLPA in the leukemia cells. The detection triggers an immune response that activates the T cells to kill the leukemia cells and limits cancer progression. The efficacy of the T cells in killing leukemia cells was also demonstrated in a mouse model of human leukemia.
Thus far, only proteins in cancer cells have been known to activate T cells. This study is a pioneer in its discovery of mLPA, and the specific T cells which can identify lipids expressed by cancer cells. Unlike proteins, lipids in cancer cells do not differ between individuals, indicating that the recognition of mLPA by mLPA-specific T-cells happens in all leukemia patients. This new mode of cancer cell recognition suggests that the T-cells can potentially be harnessed for a leukemia immunotherapy that is effective in all patients.
“The identification of mLPA and its role in activating specific T cells is novel. This knowledge not only sheds light on future leukemia studies, but also complements ongoing leukemia immunotherapy studies focusing on proteins in cancer cells,” said Dr Lucia Mori, Principal Investigator at SIgN. “Current treatments run the risk of failure due to re-growth of residual leukemia cells that survive after stem cell transplants. T-cell immunotherapy may serve as a complementary treatment for more effective and safer therapeutic approach towards leukemia.”
Professor Laurent Renia, Acting Executive Director of SIgN, said, “At SIgN, we study how the human immune system protects us naturally from infections. We engage in promising disease-specific research projects that ultimately pave the way for the development of treatments and drugs which can better combat these diseases. A pertinent example will be this study; this mode of immune recognition of leukemia cells is an insightful discovery that will create new opportunities for immunotherapy to improve the lives of leukemia patients.”
A toxin linked to a targeted monoclonal antibody has shown “compelling” antitumor activity in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphomas who were no longer responding to treatment, according to a report from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The ongoing open-label phase 2 study presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting was designed to test the activity of
brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) in relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) including B-cell cancers such as diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
The antibody-toxin compound has been approved for treatment of relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic T cell lymphoma, and its success prompted the trial in NHL, said Eric Jacobsen, MD, of Dana-Farber, senior author of the study. First author is Nancy Bartlett, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine.
To date, the trial has enrolled 62 patients with B-cell lymphomas, including 44 diagnosed with DLBCL. Most the patients were no longer responding to previous therapy, and 23 percent had never responded to any treatment.
Forty percent of the 43 evaluable DLBCL patients had an objective response to the drug with a median duration of 36 weeks, including some of more than eight months. Seven had complete remissions and 10 had partial remissions. In the other B-cell lymphoma patients, 22 had an objective response. Continue reading
Nick Wilkins was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old, and when the cancer kept bouncing back, impervious to all the different treatments the doctors tried, his father sat him down for a talk.
John Wilkins explained to Nick, who was by then 14, that doctors had tried chemotherapy, radiation, even a bone marrow transplant from his sister.
“I explained to him that we’re running out of options,” Wilkins remembers telling his son.
There was one possible treatment they could try: an experimental therapy at the University of Pennsylvania.
He asked his son if he understood what it would mean if this treatment didn’t work.
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New Medical Discovery
A team of scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital have invented what is being considered one the greatest medical breakthroughs in recent years. They have designed a microparticle that can be injected into a person’s bloodstream that can quickly oxygenate their blood. This will even work if the ability to breathe has been restricted, or even cut off entirely.
This finding has the potential to save millions of lives every year. The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels. This has countless potential uses as it allows life to continue when oxygen is needed but unavailable. For medical personnel, this is just enough time to avoid risking a heart attack or permanent brain injury when oxygen is restricted or cut off to patients.