MAR 31, 2019 08:34 PM PDT

Glowing Tumors Reveal How Immunotherapeutics Work

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to examine how an immunotherapy drug reaches a tumor and the parts of a cancer that remain unaffected.

Learn more about how PET scans work:

The process of PET imaging uses a synthesized radiolabeled protein that locks on to tumor cells—this allows researchers to visually follow where the so-called checkpoint inhibitor drug binds to a tumor. "This approach offers a vital step toward directly measuring how well immunotherapy drugs are able to engage a tumor in any given person," says Sridhar Nimmagadda, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Radiolabeled protein lights up tumor implanted in the arm of a mouse under a PET scan. The researchers hope to use scans like this one to calculate in real time how much of an immunotherapy drug reaches a tumor and what parts of a cancer remain unaffected. Credit: Sridhar Nimmagadda via John Hopkins

If PET imaging precision is confirmed to be highly effective in additional tests, it could streamline cancer therapy by enhancing the therapeutic dose of a drug. The use of checkpoint inhibitors is a form of cancer therapy designed to help the immune systems recognize cancer cells and to target them. For example, the programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) is one such checkpoint target by three approved therapeutics called atezolizumab, avelumab and durvalumab by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the study, researchers created a radiolabeled small protein that binds to PD-L1 which facilitates marking its receptor with a radiotracer seen with PET imaging technique. "In human patients, this could give us some insight about how to optimize further treatments by increasing the dose or substituting other drugs or therapies more quickly,” says Nimmagadda.

Source: John Hopkins School of Medicine

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 17, 2018
Microglial Priming And Pain
Microglia are in primed states when injury happens and acute exposure to opioids activates them further creating pain sensitivity....
JAN 03, 2019
Health & Medicine
JAN 03, 2019
Antibiotic Resistance - A Global Health Threat
Antibiotics play a critical role in fighting off bacterial infections. Since the discovery of the first antibiotic, Penicillin, antibiotic treatment became an effective and safe tool which is...
JAN 07, 2019
Drug Discovery
JAN 07, 2019
First-in-Human Trial of Senolytic Drugs
According to a study published in the journal EBioMedicine, the very first results on the treatment of a deadly age-related disease in human patients using...
MAR 25, 2019
Drug Discovery
MAR 25, 2019
Automated Drug Delivery System To Treat Post-Bariatric Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar is an increasing complication of patients who undergone weight-loss surgery known as post-bariatric hypoglycemia (PBH). The condition is ch...
MAR 31, 2019
Drug Discovery
MAR 31, 2019
Chemopreventative Drug Targets H. Pylori Infections
A chemopreventative drug being tested for its ability to inhibit the production of cell growth in multiple types of cancer was found to act directly on the...
APR 10, 2019
Drug Discovery
APR 10, 2019
Dovato: Approved Drug for HIV-1
Roughly 1.1 million people in the U.S. live with HIV with 15 percent of that population unaware they are infected. Treating these individuals must be highl...
Loading Comments...