T-Cells Levels in Patients with Lung Cancer Guide Immunotherapy Response


Published Date : Jul 18, 2017

In a study published in ‘Nature Immunotherapy’ in July 17, 2017 researchers at the University of Southampton and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, California, have discovered that measuring the level of a particular type of immune cell could help clinicians predict which patients with lung cancer would benefit the most from immunotherapy. The breakthrough study was funded by Cancer Research UK. The scientists found that a significant presence of specific type of immune T-cells-tissue-resident memory T-cells-in the tumors of patients implies that they are 66% more likely to survive.

The increased survival rate is attributed not just to the large presence of these cells but also to their distinctive behavior, the investigators confirmed.

Findings Shot in the Arm for Cancer Immunotherapies

The immune system plays a vital role in combating lung cancer. Over the last decade, the scope of the immunotherapies to guide a particular treatment pathway has been intensively researched upon. The results of the study are exciting, contends Professor Christian Ottensmeier, one of the authors, as they will give reliable indication of which drugs will be most beneficial to the patients and better understand their response to immunotherapy.  

Key to Reliable Treatment Pathway for Lung Cancer

These T-cells are responsible for the production of additional molecules that can attack the tumor, kill the cancerous cells, and protect the patients. The researchers observed that these cells typically are found clustered in the cancerous tissue, playing a key role in the body’s immune system. The investigators opined that the successful translation of these findings into clinical practice calls for further research. In the coming years, scientists are likely to use these cells as templates to develop vaccines that can further boost immunotherapy and help physicians treat lung cancer.

Research such as this bodes well for the search for personalized treatments for lung cancers, believes scientists at Cancer Research UK.