News Media: Researchers have found that bowel cancer cells have a mechanism by which they can switch off some key molecules on their surfaces and thus escape being recognised and killed by the immunotherapy agents. This may provide clues as to why some of the patients do not respond to immunotherapy agents say researchers. Researchers have also suggested methods by which this could be bypassed and effectiveness of immunotherapy could be increased. The results of the study were published this week in the latest issue of the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust explain that cancer cells can literally “change their spots” so that they are unrecognizable to the immunotherapy agents.
They can do this by switching off the key molecules on their surfaces that the immunotherapy agents are trained to recognize. The team tested samples of bowel cancer cells and found that while some responded well to immunotherapy, others failed to do so.
They tested the changes in these tumour cells by examining miniature tumours grown in the labs. The team then tried a combination of available agents to reverse the efficacy of the immunotherapy agents so that they could work for more patients.
The researchers explain that the antibody-based drug cibisatamab – an immunotherapy agent, could work better in more patients if the theory is proved. This study, they add, could also help determine which of the patients would respond well to immunotherapy and which of them would not.