Combining Immunotherapies Could Be Effective Against Cancer
According to a new study by immunologists from the University of Konstanz, a new cancer vaccine candidate could boost the positive effects of existing immunotherapy drugs, improving the success rate of treatments up to 75% of cases.
The vaccine, which incorporates a new immunostimulant that is safe for use in humans, was shown to eliminate tumors in mice partially.
However, the study further demonstrated that combining the vaccine with an immune checkpoint inhibitor -- an established immunotherapy drug with a 20% success rate overall for patients -- can vastly improve the proportion of individuals who respond to treatments, eliminating tumors in 75% of cases in mice.
The researchers suggest that these promising pre-clinical results should be transitioned into clinical application based on the study's findings. "This might have a very beneficial impact on immunotherapy in certain types of cancer," commented Marcus Groettrup, senior author on the study, in a press statement.
The therapeutic concept developed in this study is currently being tested in a first small phase 1 clinical trial by project partners in the Netherlands to determine if it is similarly effective in humans.
The microparticle-based cancer vaccine, which uses the immunostimulant Riboxxim that has the approval for application in humans, can generate the body's T-cell response necessary for immune checkpoint blockade drugs to be effective.
The results suggest that this new approach of using a vaccine combined with established drugs may be potent anti-cancer immunotherapy to be tested in future clinical trials.
The findings appeared in Nature Communications on May 18, 2021.