The disappearance of Gianluca Vialli from pancreatic cancer is in everyone’s eyes, a terrible disease that causes very high mortality and is still very difficult to cure. New hope in the matter comes from the United States where a team of researchers has discovered a more effective therapy that combines immunotherapy, i.e. the use of targeted drugs against cancer cells capable of activating the immune system to fight them with the action combination of T cells and those called “myeloid suppressor cells“.
Here’s how it works
The cell suppressive (MDSC) are a heterogeneous population of cells that expand during cancer, inflammation and infection and are able to inhibit the anti-tumor immunity of our T cells also called “long memory cells”. As experts explain, these accumulate in the blood, lymph nodes, bone marrow and all tumor sites of most cancer patients and block the functions of both adaptive and innate immunity (i.e. T cells ).
The American study published in Nature Cancer is able to demonstrate that the researchers were able to modify the “tumor immune microenvironment” using the immune responses in the pacreas tumors of humans but also mice to study the possible implications of the therapies. Subsequently, several mechanisms to block the cancer were neutralized by improving the response to the treatments of this terrible disease: it is not a definitive cure but it could improve patient survival by regressing the disease in more than 20% of cases.
This therapy provided an answer”unprecedented in our models”said Prof. Ronald DePinho, one of the authors of the study and professor of cancer biology. The other excellent news is the discovery of the possibility of treating pacreas cancer with immunotherapy: even today, one of the main causes of (long-term) failure of therapies is the late discovery of the disease. Now the researchers would have managed to make the tumor regress without definitively healing it: in any case, the combination of therapies has improved the picture in 90% of the models studied, now it will be necessary to understand how it will really respond on the human organism. “These are encouraging results, especially considering the lack of effective immunotherapy options in pancreatic cancer“, DePinho pointed out as he writes The Messenger. “By targeting the mechanisms that hamper the immune response, we give T cells a fighting chance against these cancers“.
A cancer vaccine
As proof that the scientific world is very attentive and eager to defeat this ugly evil, no less than 950 thousand euros of the Pnrr will be destined for the production of a DNA vaccine 2.0 to treat pancreatic cancer. The research will be carried out at the Molinette hospital of the Città della Salute in Turin: the project aims to improve and market Eno3Pep, a second-generation vaccine that can be administered to all those with pancreatic cancer. Through the normal procedure for vaccines, toxicity, bio-distribution and all the information that could lead to authorization by AIFA for clinical trials as soon as possible will be studied.