The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that help protect us from infection and disease. Keep track of what is “normal” cells in our bodies and recognize “foreign” or markers.
When the immune system detects something unusual, it raises an alarm and sets about to destroy the invader. For example, bacteria have different markers or features than our own cells – so that when entering the body, the immune system sees them as foreign and mount a response to attack them and prevent infection.
Cancer cells hide from the immune system cancer cells are also foreign to our bodies, but are more difficult for the immune system to detect. Cancer cells are our own cells that have acquired the genetic changes that cause them to grow and behave abnormally.
Since the start as normal cells, they are better to hide from the immune system. Sometimes, the immune system can identify cancer cells but cannot mount a response strong enough to get rid of them. In other cases, the cancer cells by hijacking hide safety mechanisms of our body.
Immunotherapy treatments help the immune system work smarter and harder. Researchers are studying new ways to help the immune system find, recognize and attack cancer cells.
They use a variety of strategies to do this (most promising are described in this article), and some are already making major changes in the way cancer is treated. checkpoint immune checkpoint inhibitors make it easier for the immune system to attack cancer cells by disabling mechanism that cancer cells use to hide from immune cells.
Molecules on the cell surface (checkpoint) can turn on or off an immune response. Checkpoint inhibitor treatment several checkpoints of the immune system are currently used to treat cancer, including verification system PD-1 and PD-L1. PD-1 sits on the surface of immune cells (T cells) and turn off the immune system to prevent the attack of normal cells in the body. When PD-1 is attached to another surface marker called PD-L1 (found on the surface of normal cells and some cancerous cells) signals the immune system to leave the single cell.
This process is important for normal cells, but cancer cells use to avoid attack by the immune system. Checkpoint inhibitor drugs bind to these surface markers, immune system against cancer cells. Some inhibitors checkpoint approved by Health Canada for use by the patient include: Yervoy (CTLA-4 inhibitor) for metastatic melanoma Opdivo (PD-1 inhibitor) for cancer metastatic non-small cell lung Keytruda (inhibitor of PD-1) for both metastatic melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer with inhibitors of the checkpoint showing Little success in the treatment of cancers, they are currently being tested in other types.
Clinical studies and research on inhibitors checkpoint in Canada, clinical trials are currently testing the safety, dose, and efficacy of inhibitors checkpoint in the following cancers: solid tumors of advanced breast cancer metastatic kidney cancer metastatic head and neck cancers hematological cancers (myeloma, acute myeloid leukemia) adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of colon cancer metastatic esophageal cancer in advanced bladder cancer and ovarian cancer urinary tract and other gynecologic cancers mesothelioma melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer sarcoma
Although the checkpoint inhibitors effectively treated the patients with solid tumors, not all patients respond. Some researchers are targeting other immune checkpoints, such as TIM-3 and TIGIT to help more patients with several types of cancer. Researchers are trying to develop treatments that block these checkpoint molecules and reactive T cells “exhausted”, which recognize and attack cancer cells.
Researchers are also looking for markers that predict whether a patient will respond to this therapy. This will help doctors identify patients most likely to respond to checkpoint inhibitors and choose the best treatment for a patient. Finally, researchers are testing checkpoint inhibitors in combination with other cancer treatments, including immunotherapy and standard therapies.
The researchers hope that these combinations are more effective than when administered alone.