Our latest paper is now out in OncoImmunology, available fully Open Access for you or read or listen to at:
Immunotherapies are a set of new approaches being developed to treat cancer. These can work by enabling the patient’s own body to recognise a tumour as a threat and setting the patient’s immune system to work on trying to destroy it.
One approach, to deliver personalised treatments, depends upon preparing and “training” specific cells (called dendritic cells) from the patient in the laboratory, before injecting them back into the patient as a treatment.
Despite progress in this area, and approval of some clinical approaches, much improvement in these personalised immunotherapies is urgently needed to make them more effective. In particular, methods of preparing large enough numbers of dendritic cells with the right characteristics, and then getting them to go the right place in the body and drive a strong enough attack on the cancer, are key to future success.
Our new research demonstrates that we can tackle some of these problems by adding a substance called LL-37 to the cells when we are growing them in the laboratory. Intriguingly, this LL-37 is produced naturally by the human body to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, but can also influence the way our defences against infection perform. Using it to improve approaches to developing cancer immunotherapies is an exciting new discovery.
Growing dendritic cells in LL-37 in the laboratory, produces far more of the cell type needed for cancer immunotherapies and gives them boosted functions. When tested on mice with cancers, these treatments were able to produce a stronger anti-tumour response and even lead to the tumours shrinking.
Initial experiments show similar effects on boosting the function of dendritic cells grown from human blood cells, justifying further work to try to apply this discovery to developing improved human cancer immunotherapies in the future.
Gwyer Findlay, E., Currie, A. J., Zhang, A., Ovciarikova, J., Young, L., Stevens, H., McHugh, B. J., Canel, M., Gray M., Milling, S. W. F., Campbell, J., Savill, J., Serrels, A., Davidson, D. J.
Davidson lab supported by funding from: Medical Research Council