Viral DNA in humans can be harnessed against cancer
It can be used as a target for the immune system to eliminate cancer cells
Bits of viruses that sit dormant in our DNA may be reactivated to help the immune system get rid of cancer cells , a new study published in
Nature has concluded .
Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute aimed to understand differences in immunotherapy efficacy against lung cancer by analysing immune cells activity in mice with the malignancy as well as in tumour samples from patients with the disease . They found that B cells support immune response to lung cancer by using antibodies to recognise proteins produced by ancient viral DNA that is inactive in most healthy tissues but can be woken up by cancers .
“ Our work highlights an important role for antibody responses and also how these responses might be boosted with immunotherapy ,” Dr Katey Enfield , study author and postdoctoral training fellow at the Crick , said in a press release . “ Our study also helps to explain the mechanism by which the presence of B cells in tumours improves patient response to immunotherapy .”
Checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy that may help some patients with lung cancer live longer by acting on the proteins that stop the immune system from attacking cancer cells . However , many patients don ’ t respond to the treatment and researchers are trying to figure out why this is the case and how more people could benefit from the revolutionary therapy .
“ This work opens up a number of new opportunities for improving patient responses to immunotherapy , a crucial step in helping more people survive lung cancer ,” Dr Julian Downward , Associate Research Director and head of the Oncogene Biology Laboratory at the Crick , said in the press release . “ We now know that areas of B cell expansion can help us predict a positive response to checkpoint inhibition and with more research , we could work to boost B cell activity in a targeted way for the patients less likely to respond .”
Monitoring as good as treatment for localised prostate cancer
Patients have the same survival chances without treatment side effects
en with early-stage prostate cancer who were just monitored survived as long as those who received radiotherapy or surgery , according to a large study presented at the European Association of Urology Congress .
Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Bristol followed 1,643 patients with prostate cancer who received active monitoring ( involving regular tests to check on the cancer ), prostate surgery , or radiotherapy for an average of 15 years . Their analysis showed that about 97 percent of the men survived 15 years after diagnosis regardless of the care they received .
Though participants on active monitoring were more likely to see their cancer progress or spread than those who received treatment , they reported a quality of life ( physical and mental health ) similar to the others . For those under treatment , however , the side effects on urinary and sexual functions lasted for up to 12 years , more than previously thought . Surgery and radiotherapy for prostate cancer can also lead to erectile dysfunction , incontinence , or difficulty passing urine .
The research demonstrates treatment decisions for low and intermediate risk localised prostate cancer shouldn ’ t be rushed , according to lead investigator Professor Freddie Hamdy from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences at Oxford .
“ It ’ s clear that , unlike many other cancers , a diagnosis of prostate cancer should not be a cause for panic or rushed decision making ,” he said in a press release . “ Patients and clinicians can and should take their time to weigh up the benefits and possible harms of different treatments in the knowledge that this will not adversely affect their survival .”
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