New Challenges Exposed in Treating Bladder Cancer

Just Because an Answer is Presented with Obstacles That Doesn't Mean it's Impossible.
Just Because an Answer is Presented with Obstacles That Doesn’t Mean it’s Impossible.

Checkpoint inhibitors, one of the major forms of cancer immunotherapy, have played a significant role in the way doctors treat bladder cancer. Researchers are now tackling new challenges in order to improve the effectiveness of these treatments.

Checkpoint Inhibitors and Bladder Cancer

Five checkpoint inhibitors recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration: Keytruda, Opdivo, Tecentriq, Imfinzi and Bavencio. All five have been tested as both first-line and second-line treatments.

When used with patients who had previously been untreated, these therapies achieved a positive response in 15 to 25 percent. As second-line treatments for patients who had received chemotherapy, only Keytruda showed improvement in overall survival rates.

Solving the Puzzle of Patient Selection

Andrea Necchi, a medical oncologist from Italy, spoke on the topic at last year’s European Multidisciplinary Meeting on Urological Cancers. Necchi explained that patients who respond to checkpoint inhibitors have a high chance of success, so it becomes an issue of patient selection.

According to Necchi, one condition that appears to inhibit use of cancer immunotherapy is the presence of mutations in fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR). Testing of pan-FGFR receptors suggests that using them before or after treatment with checkpoint inhibitors could increase chances of a positive response.

Since the use of the five checkpoint inhibitors alone will not boost survival rates, researchers are testing them in different combinations with other treatments, including other checkpoint inhibitors.

Issels®: Leading the Way in Cancer Immunotherapy

Our individually tailored cancer immunotherapy programs are not clinical trials. We have a long track record of helping our patients achieve long-term remission, even with late-stage cancer. Contact us for more information.

Cancer Therapies at the Molecular Level in Intracellular Proteins

Cancer Therapies at the Molecular Level in Intracellular Proteins
Cancer Therapies at the Molecular Level in Intracellular Proteins

As scientists work to refine immunotherapy cancer treatment, they also look for ways to determine which patients are most likely to respond. According to a recent study, one of the answers may lie within a patient’s genetics.

HLA Molecules and Intracellular Proteins

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that’s part of the immune system. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules help direct T-cells towards cancer cells by binding peptides from intracellular proteins, including those found on tumor cells.

Some immunotherapy treatments that have been successful in fighting metastatic cancers focus on promoting activity of HLA-1 molecules. A research team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center genotyped more than 1,500 advanced cancer patients to determine if HLA variants had an effect on post-treatment survival.

Do HLA Variants Affect Cancer Treatment?

Since HLA-1 molecules come in a number of different forms with several variants, the researchers speculated that those variations would influence the patients’ responses to treatment. As expected, patients with greater diversity in HLA-1 molecules had a corresponding increase in survival rates.

The study also considered the correlation between somatic mutations within a cancer genome and HLA-1 variations. A higher tumor mutation burden in combination with more diverse HLA-1 molecules was linked to higher survival rates as well.

Gene-Targeted Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Advanced gene-targeted therapies are just one of the treatments available for our comprehensive and individually tailored programs. Non-toxic gene-targeted therapies attack only cancerous cells, making them less harmful to healthy tissues.

Contact us to learn more about cancer vaccines, NK cells and other treatment programs offered at Issels®.

Adoptive Cell Transfer a Natural Immunotherapy for Cancer

Adoptive Cell Transfer a Natural Immunotherapy for Cancer
Adoptive Cell Transfer a Natural Immunotherapy for Cancer09

Scientists are excited about immunotherapy for cancer because it supplements a patient’s own natural defenses of the immune system. Thanks to a recent study, researchers have made a discovery that could lead to more effective immunotherapy treatments.

What Is Adoptive Cell Transfer?

Adoptive cell transfer, one of the primary forms of immunotherapy for cancer, involves extracting a patient’s T-cells, which are a form of white blood cells that attack foreign invaders in the system. After engineering the T-cells to target the specific proteins in cancer cells, they are injected back into the patient.

While adoptive cell transfer has been successful in treating blood and bone marrow cancers, it’s been less effective with solid tumors. A team from The Scripps Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego set out to find a better way to program the T-cells.

Unleashing the Power of T-Cells

The researchers zeroed in on a protein known as Runx3, which appeared to specifically direct T-cells to solid tumors. During testing on animal models, it was found that overexpression of Runx3 led to delayed tumor growth and longer life.

Matthew Pipkin of Scripps said that Runx3 works on chromosomes within T-cells, enabling them to focus on killing tumor cells. Pipkin was hopeful that their discovery would pave the way for improving the effectiveness of adoptive cell transfer on solid tumors.

Issels®: The Leader in Immunotherapy for Cancer

Our proprietary immunobiologic core protocols are specifically designed to meet each patient’s individual needs. Contact us to learn more about our record of helping patients achieve and sustain long-term remission.

Why Some Lung Cancers Do Not Respond to Some Types of Immunotherapy Treatment

Why Some Lung Cancers Do Not Respond to Some Types of Immunotherapy Treatment
Why Some Lung Cancers Do Not Respond to Some Types of Immunotherapy Treatment

Despite the drop in smoking rates, lung cancer remains the second most common form of the disease in the United States. Scientists are hopeful that a recent discovery will aid the development of more effective immunotherapy for lung cancer.

A Roadblock in Lung Cancer Treatment

The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders. Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that boosts the ability of the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Current immunotherapy for lung cancer includes a drug that shuts down a protein on the surface of tumor cells. The protein, called PD-L1, latches on to T cells and prevents them from attacking.

Unfortunately, many lung cancer patients didn’t respond positively to this treatment. Scientists realized they needed to learn more about the “immune compartment of lung tumors,” which involves the relationship between the cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment.

Scientists Make a Breakthrough

A research team in Switzerland studied mice with a form of lung cancer similar to that in humans. They found that a type of immune cell known as Gr1+ neutrophils actually triggers a cycle in the microenvironment that promotes the growth of tumor cells.

Team leader Prof. Etienne Meylan explained that neutrophils are an essential part of the immune response, so removing them is not the answer. Future research will focus on how the neutrophils operate and how immunotherapy for lung cancer can work around them.

Issels®: The Leader in Effective Immunotherapy

For decades, we have been successful treating patients with immunotherapy for lung cancer and other forms of the disease. Contact us for more information.

Some Types of Immunotherapy Can Cause Serious Side Effects

Some Types of Immunotherapy Can Cause Serious Side Effects
Some Types of Immunotherapy Can Cause Serious Side Effects

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new forms of cancer immunotherapy for use with certain types of blood cancer. While these treatments show great promise, scientists are also working to control their potential side effects.

Cancer Immunotherapy and CAR T-cells

Kymriah from Novartis is designed to treat a form of leukemia known as ALL, which is the most common cancer that affects children. The other new treatment, Kite Pharma’s Yescarta, is for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Both treatments incorporate CAR T-cell therapy, which uses the power of the body’s immune system. Specialized white blood cells known as T-cells are removed from a patient’s body and engineered to include a receptor designed to identify and attack cancer cells. The “new” cells are replicated and reintroduced to the patient’s system.

Dealing with Side Effects

Kymriah and Yescarta are one-time-only procedures that don’t have the common side effects normally associated with chemotherapy and radiation. But scientists have discovered that the treatments have some potential side effects of their own.

CAR T-cell therapy essentially supercharges the immune system, which can result in cytokine-release syndrome. The cells under attack release proteins called cytokines, setting off a massive inflammatory response including extreme fevers and seriously low blood pressure.

Fortunately, the side effects can be managed in a hospital or clinical setting. Researchers are seeking a way to make the therapies useable in a variety of settings.

State-of-the-Art Cancer Immunotherapy from Issels®

Our non-toxic, personalized cancer immunotherapy programs have helped numbers of patients achieve and maintain long-term remission. Contact us to learn more about Issels® and our record of successful cancer treatment.

Gene Therapies for Two Blood Cancers Become a Reality

State of the Art Research on Blood Cancers Is Under Way
State of the Art Research on Blood Cancers Is Under Way

2017 was a breakthrough year for cancer treatment. For the first time ever, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two gene therapies for blood cancers that have failed to respond to traditional forms of treatment.

Helping a Patient’s Own Body Fight Cancer

The new treatments are known as CAR-T cell immunotherapy. What’s exciting about these therapies is that they enhance the power of a patient’s own immune system to seek out and kill cancer cells.

T cells are immune system cells responsible for attacking foreign substances in the body. First, a doctor extracts T cells from a patient’s blood sample. The cells are then genetically modified to produce artificial proteins.

These proteins are called chimeric antigen receptors, or CAR, and they have the ability to recognize cancer cells in a patient. Once the modified T cells have been replicated, they’re reintroduced to the patient’s system to find and destroy cancer cells.

An “Explosion of Interest”

Kymriah, manufactured by Novartis, was approved for use with ALL, a form of leukemia that affects children and young adults. Gilead Sciences produces the other gene therapy, called Yescarta, which is used with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to Dario Campano, an immunologist involved in the development of Kymriah, the approval of these therapies triggered an “explosion of interest.” Campano expects continued research to lead to greater advancements in the technology.

Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment at Issels®

Issels® has long been a leader in the use of non-toxic, personally tailored cancer treatment programs that harness the power of a patient’s immune system. Contact us to learn more about cancer vaccines and other treatments available at Issels®.