Study shows new cancer treatment can stop the disease advancing in patients who are resistant to immunotherapy – WION

A new study has shown that a new cancer treatment can stop the disease from advancing in patients who are out of options, which includes being resistant to immunotherapy.

Some tumours can evolve to resist immunotherapy which uses the immune system to target and kill cancer cells.

Combining immunotherapy with guadecitabine can reverse cancer’s resistance to the former, according to oncologists in the UK.

The results published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer show that the combination of pembrolizumab with guadecitabine halted the advance of cancer in more than a third of patients enrolled in the early phase 1 trial.

Experts at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust said that the dual combination could become an effective new weapon against several forms of cancer.

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According to the study’s chief investigator, Prof Johann de Bono, “I think one of the most important things about this trial is that we used multiple different methods to look for changes in the immune system, robustly showing that it was being influenced by the combination treatment.”

“In the long term we hope that if these effects are confirmed in other patient groups and future studies, guadecitabine and pembrolizumab could help to tackle some of the resistance to immunotherapy we see in too many types of cancer,” he added.

30 out of 34 patients, experienced no tumour progression for 24 weeks or more after getting injected with guadecitabine for four days in a row every three weeks for three years.

Lung and skin cancer patients especially benefit from pembrolizumab which is an immune checkpoint inhibitor drug.

“Immunotherapy has shown amazing promise in cancer care over the last decade, but it doesn’t work well in all cancers and cancers can often become resistant. This combination might be a way to target their cancer even after it has stopped responding to immunotherapy,” said the study’s lead author Anna Minchom, a clinical scientist at the Institute of Cancer Research and a consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden.

Before the trial, three-fifths of the group (60 per cent) were resistant to immunotherapy but this decreased to 37 per cent after it concluded.

(With inputs from agencies)

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