Predicting Immunotherapy Response, Cancer Relapse and More

  • The researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center discovered that cancer cells express DUX4, a gene responsible for certain muscular dystrophies, to protect themselves from the effects of immunotherapy, in particular – from immune checkpoint inhibitors. The implications of this research would be development of therapies that would target DUX4 and thus make treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors more efficient. The study is due to be published in Developmental Cell.
  • Researchers from the University of Western Australia in collaboration with Telethon Kids Institute and 13 health research organizations looked into the genes in cancer samples and devised a way of using cancer samples to identify potential response to immune checkpoint inhibitors therapy before initiating immunotherapy treatment. This could help identify drugs that improve response to checkpoint inhibitors. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.
  • Researchers from the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center have come close to developing a blood test, based on a patient’s immune response, which may predict relapse of breast cancer. The study was published in Nature Immunology.
  • It is known that cancer cells spread in the body by feeding on sugar. British researchers discovered that if deprived of sugar, cancer cells switch, with the help of a protein called AKR1B10, to fatty acids as a source of energy to boost their spread. The implications could be for diagnosis, as increased levels AKR1B10 may predict metastatic spread; and for management, which means development of new treatments that would prevent cancer cells from using fatty acids. This preclinical study was published in Nature Communications.