Researchers have found immune T cells can counteract the negative effects of chemotherapy-resistance in mice with ovarian cancer.
Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital have discovered a breakthrough in treating chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer through the use of immune cells.
Ovarian cancer is typically detected at later stages resulting in chemotherapy being the only option to treat the disease. The problem with this is, although patients usually respond to the invasive treatment, over time a resistance is built up leading to the development of a more dangerous stage.
A certain type of chemotherapy called cisplatin, is used to treat ovarian cancer which is platinum-based. It’s the platinum that targets the cancer cells and stops them from dividing further. But researchers found fibroblasts actually protect the cancer cells by stopping the platinum from penetrating them. However, when immune T cells were used it was found these counteracted the fibroblast’s protection and the cancer cells died off. The research was carried out in mouse models.
“T cells are the soldiers of the immune system. We already know that if you have a lot of T cells in a tumor, you have better outcomes. Now we see that the immune system can also impact chemotherapy resistance”, study author Weiping Zou, stated.
Immunotherapy, or the process of using the body’s own immune system to tackle cancer, is fast becoming an effective treatment. Co-author of the study, Johanna Olweus of the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital says that this new discovery needs more research but the results are encouraging.
“Our study shows that the principle of outsourcing cancer immunity to a donor is sound. However, more work needs to be done before patients can benefit from this discovery. Thus, we need to find ways to enhance the throughput. We are currently exploring high-throughput methods to identify the neo-antigens that the T cells can “see” on the cancer and isolate the responding cells. But the results showing that we can obtain cancer-specific immunity from the blood of healthy individuals are already very promising.”
The study was recently published in the journal Science.