Researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have identified blood biomarkers that predict whether cancer patients will respond positively to immunotherapy, a hopeful therapeutic technique that acts as a vaccine against cancer cells. Their works are published this Tuesday, January 9 in the journal Nature.
For the authors of the study, this blood test will greatly increase the proportion of patients who will benefit from immunotherapy treatment.
Oncologists around the world now have their eyes on the promising effects of immunotherapy – including the fight against the most aggressive cancers – by having the cancer cells recognize by the immune system, which can fight them, like a vaccine.
For now, the immunotherapy is effective in treating melanoma of the skin , the kidney cancer and lung cancer and is the subject of extensive research to cure breast cancer .
However, ” about half of cancer patients do not respond to this technique, but still have to endure side effects, ” the study says.
That is why Swiss researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a method that analyzes more than 50 DNA proteins within a single cell to detect these non-responsive patients and thus save time by putting in place other therapeutic options.
As a major advance in oncology, scientists were able to identify biomarkers in the blood of 20 patients that indicate whether the therapy is likely to be effective in patients even before the start of treatment, depending on their immune response before and after 12 weeks treatment.
In particular, they identified the frequency of monocytes “CD14 + CD16-HLA-DRhi” in the blood count as an important predictor of cancer cell survival, indicating a weak immune response to immunotherapy treatment.
For the authors of the study, this blood test will greatly increase the proportion of patients who will benefit from immunotherapy treatment .
Conversely, patients for whom the therapy is not supposed to work may be referred to other treatments at an early stage of the disease.
Before being used, this discovery will have to be the subject of several clinical studies including a higher number of patients, the study concludes.