The study on the immunity altering drugs together significantly extended the lives of mice injecting with human ovarian cancer cells, an early proof-of-concept experiment; that may advance treatment for the most deadly although rare gynecologic malignancy in humans. Although ovarian cancer has a low incidence rate, it remaining as the most deadly gynecologic malignancy.
The combination treatment appears to improve survival by changing the natural ratio of different types of immune system”clean up” cells called macrophages, a therapy target that’s received less attention than other immune system components but could hold promise for patients with various types of malignancies. Together these drugs could one day make some headway where other therapies have failed.
Immunity altering drugs
As the study showing promise for a class of drugs known as epigenetic therapies, which remove chemical groups on DNA and proteins that affect the activity of cancer-related genes. Although the drugs mainly battle cancer by returning the function of cancer-fighting genes; that have become suppressed by the disease itself, researchers have also discovering that the drugs may trigger an anti-viral; immune response that may help the body attack tumors.
A different class of drugs, known as polyamine-blocking therapies; has also shown potential in inhibiting tumor growth in animal models; by preventing the synthesis and/or transport of molecules necessary for cancer cells to thrive. These agents also affect the immune system; with studies showing that they alter the makeup of immune cell populations in tumor microenvironments.
Growth and immune activity
But in a mouse model which the animals’ abdominal cavities were injecting with human ovarian cancer cells to generate disseminating disease often seeing in women with ovarian cancer. Over the course of several weeks, the rodents developed ascites; or fluid collections in their abdomens full of cancer and immune cells, as a consequence of cancer progression. By sampling the fluid weekly, the researchers obtained a window on tumor growth and immune activity simultaneously over time.
Examining cancer and immune system cells present in the animals’ ascites; showed that the drug combination had no effect on most immune cell types compared with treatment with the single agents. However, there were two exceptions. Study finding increases in cytotoxic lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, including both T cells and natural killer cells; which are tumor-fighting immune system cells, but Zahnow said the effect did not seem large enough to explain the significant increase in survival of the treated mice.