Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis developed a two-pronged strategy involving immune cells that cleared metastasized breast cancer tumors in the bones of mice and prevented their recurrence.
Metastatic breast cancer, or stage IV breast cancer, is caused by the spread of cancer cells to other organs, such as the lungs, bones, brain, and liver. Around 30 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer may later develop metastatic disease, according to data.
Chemotherapy, targeted therapies, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy are all used to treat breast cancer that has spread. In addition, doctors may employ surgery or radiation therapy to eliminate cancer cells. However, metastatic breast cancer can be difficult to adequately treat, and the majority of treatments just halt the disease’s growth.
Nevertheless, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may have discovered a new method to combat the disease using immune cells that have been supercharged.
Their research, which was published in Cancer Discovery on March 8th, discovered that when mice with metastatic breast cancer were given enhanced immune cells called T cells and macrophages, they eliminated tumor cells in the animals’ bones. In addition, the immune cells continued to eliminate returning cancer cells.
To conduct the study, the team administered a p38MAPK inhibitor and an immune treatment termed OX40 agonist, which binds and activates T cells, to mice with bone-metastasized breast cancer. At least eighty days after getting the medication, all the rodents were confirmed to be cancer-free and living. Unfortunately, just fifty percent of the mice survived 60 days after receiving one of the therapies.
Sheila A. Stewart, Ph.D., the Gerty Cori Professor of Cell Biology & Physiology, notes in a press release, “Approximately 70% of patients with metastatic breast cancer have bone-based malignancies. Our research suggests that we may be able to use two treatments — one to sensitize the myeloid tumor microenvironment to immunotherapy and another to activate T cells — to target these bone metastases in a way that eliminates the tumor, prevents cancer from returning, and prevents bone loss in the process.”
After receiving the combined treatment, Stewart states, “the mice appear to be immunized against cancer.” According to the study, the combination of p38i, anti-OX40, and cytotoxic T-cell engagement healed metastatic illness in mice and established long-lasting immunological memory.
In addition, the outcomes of the study prompt experts to ask if this two-pronged strategy might be effective in treating antigenic breast cancer. In light of these encouraging results, scientists aim to conduct clinical trials including this immune cell combination in patients with bone-metastatic breast cancer.