Transplant drug could boost the power of brain tumor treatments

Charles S. Cobbs, MD

The Gregory Foltz, MD Endowed Director
Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for
Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment
Swedish Neuroscience Specialists

 

Investigators at the University of Michigan have made headway in one of the most difficult areas of immunotherapy for malignant glioma. http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201409/transplant-drug-could-boost-power-brain-tumor-treatments-u-m

Immunotherapy is the use of a natural immune response or an immune response that is elicited somehow, to attack a brain tumor. The problems that are associated with immunotherapy include the fact that tumor cells, for the most part, express the same protein markers on their cell surface that other normal cells in the body express. Another major problem with brain tumors in terms of immunotherapy is that these tumor cells express proteins that shut down the immune system when immune cells common to the presence of the tumor.

The investigators at the University of Michigan have found that one of the major tumor signaling pathways called mTOR is associated with the tumors ability to shut down the immune response. Fortunately, there is an old antibiotic drug called rapamycin that can block this pathway. These investigators showed that when rapamycin is given in combination with an immunotherapy, it significantly enhances the effect of the body’s immune response since it has the ability of turning off some of the immunosuppressive pathways that the tumor cells like to turn on. In other words, rapamycin makes the tumor cells more exposed to the immune system which helps the immunotherapy work better.

This paper could be significant in the fight against brain tumors. As it turns out, immunotherapy appears to be one of the most promising strategies for brain tumors and cancer in general. Most likely, there will not be any one simple magic bullet for immunotherapy, rather there will probably be ultimately a combination of things that not only target the tumor cells but also make the tumors more exposed to the immune system. Using rapamycin to shut down the mTOR cancer promoting pathway could be an important adjunct in the ultimate goal of causing a specific antitumor immune response.

The authors of the study should be congratulated for the hard work and creativity that led to this innovative study.  A note of caution should be added however that this study was performed on a rat model of brain tumor. The mechanism of rapamycin activation of immune response should translate to the same response in the human situation but this has not been determined yet. He offers propose a formal clinical trial using rapamycin as an adjunct and immunotherapy for malignant glioma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

 

 

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