Williams Cancer Institute

Improving immune checkpoint inhibitors anti-tumor response

A group of scientists at Tohoku University, published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, discovered a way to improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade and minimize the side effects that may come with the therapy. They demonstrated that using immune checkpoint inhibitors to target tumor-positive lymph nodes generates an antitumor response against local and systemic metastases.
We know that Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors are a novel therapy against cancer; one mechanism of action is to regulate, control, improve and boost the natural activity of our immune system so they can recognize and attack cancer cells. Another mechanism is blocking the checkpoints cancer cells use to escape from our immune system. But as with all therapies, not all people are going to respond the same to these kinds of treatments, and the effects can vary from one another.
This is why the team at Tohoku University wanted to test their hypothesis by using “anti-CTLA4” on laboratory mice with lymph node and distant metastases, confirming that delivering “CTLA4” blockers directly to tumor-positive lymph nodes elicited a potential anti-tumor response in local and systemic metastases improving the mice’s chance of survival. This effect was mediated by an upregulation of functionally active T cell population in the tumor-positive lymph node and spleen.
So their findings provide an approach to enhance and improve the efficacy of Immune checkpoint blockade while minimizing the side effects.
We already know that injection into the tumor of immunotherapy can offer a superior response to systemic immunotherapy.  This study further expands on that with immunotherapy injection into the lymph node.  Both it these are techniques that we at Williams Cancer Institute are utilizing to treat patients.
Reference : J Exp Clin Cancer Res, 2023 Jun 1, Metastatic lymph node targeted CTLA4 blockade: a potent intervention for local and distant metastases with minimal ICI-induced pneumonia, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10233978/

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