Recently, a new study conducted by researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has discovered a way to make the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancerous tumors. Further investigation may pave the way for treating cancer without the use of other harmful therapy options.
Research on the growth of tumors in a cancer patient has already established that there are a number of factors that come into play while determining whether a particular treatment option will work or not. This includes environmental factors, other health conditions a patient may have, and the nature of the tumors.
Previously, there were only a few treatment options for cancer but the developments in the past decade have resulted in various therapies present today. Immunotherapy is one of the latest and safest options for cancer patients.
Immunotherapy, as the name, suggests works by strengthening the body’s own immune response to cancerous tumors, which thereby results in the immune system targeting them and eliminating them from the body.
However, the main issue with this method of treating tumors is that it can only work in certain conditions. For instance, the use of immunotherapy in cancer treatment is highly effective only when the tumors contain immune cells. In medical terminology, tumors with immune cells are known as hot tumors.
On the other hand, tumors that do not contain immune cells are known as cold tumors. If a cancer patient has cold tumors, immunotherapy is not as effective. Therefore, researchers have been exploring ways of turning cold tumors into hot tumors for treating cancer with immunotherapy since it is generally the safest therapy among all others.
The new study, whose findings appear in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, shows that there might be a way to turn cold tumors into hot tumors via the injection of flu vaccination directly to the tumor.
The researchers the idea of exploring flu vaccines for the treatment of cancer came from the data on lung cancer from the National Cancer Institute. The data showed that lung cancer patients who have had a flu vaccination lived longer in comparison with those who did not.
Consequently, the researchers implemented the same scenario in a lab mouse model and confirmed that flu vaccines did play a significant role. More precisely, it was seen that the injection of flu vaccines increases the concentration of dendritic cells, which, in turn, increased the CD8+ T cells after triggering an immune response.
Additionally, the researchers also noted that the injection of vaccines in tumors at one side of the body also slowed the growth rate of tumors present at any other part. The main types of tumors tested were triple-negative breast cancer and melanoma.
The use of common FDA-approved flu shots not only reduced the growth and size of the tumor but also made immunotherapy post the injection more effective. The researchers hope to see similar results in future clinical trials on humans as mice and humans are ninety-five percent similar.