OCT 18, 2020 7:55 PM PDT

Virus-Mimicking Drug

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Scientists have found drug that a drug activates the body’s immune system by behaving like a virus and may make certain tumors visible to the body’s defense system—such approach is known as targeted immunotherapy.

"Most immunotherapy approaches rely on the ability of T cells to recognize and kill tumor cells," said lead and corresponding author Dr. Anusha Kalbasi, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the Jonsson Cancer Center. "But in some patients, tumors escape the immune system through mutations in genes involved in the interferon signaling pathway. This is a critical pathway because it normally allows tumors to increase their antigen presentation, an intricate machinery that makes tumors visible to T cells."

Findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and discusses the possibility of using drugs to mimic viruses to overcome immunotherapy resistance in tumors with defective cellular signaling. Once such signal is interferons which slows down cell division in tumors and recruits more immune cells

"This coordinated effort as a result of interferon signaling can help the immune system better identify and kill tumor cells," Kalbasi said.

"This study helps us understand the interdependence between interferon signaling and antigen presentation, which gives us important insights into how tumor cells are recognized by the immune system," said the study's senior author, Dr. Antoni Ribas, a professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine and director of the tumor immunology program at the Jonsson Cancer Center. "New strategies to promote antigen presentation to make tumors more visible to the immune system will allow immunotherapy to be effective for even more tumor types."

Learn more about immunotherapies:

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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