SEOUL, South Korea--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cancer immunotherapy harnessing the immune system to treat cancer is drawing a lot of attention of many medical staff and researchers because of unprecedented responses in the clinic. However, for most types of cancer, only a minor fraction of patients respond to immunotherapy. Also, immunotherapy is expensive, and the rising costs of other essential cancer treatments add more to the financial burden. Researchers at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have released a next generation immunotherapy that activates the body’s own immune cells to eradicate cancer cells.
Dr. In-San Kim of KIST and Dr. Seung-Yoon Park of Dongguk medical college successfully collaborated to develop a drug that maximizes anti-cancer immunity by effectively activating dendritic cells (phagocytes). This drug enhances the phagocytes‘ ability to effectively take up the cancer cells, and further activates T cells recognizing only the cancer cells due to the amplified immune response, thereby making it possible to selectively attack the cancer to be.
Using a ROCK inhibitor that inhibits the 'Rho kinase (ROCK)' signal, the researchers demonstrated that the cancer cell-phagocytic capacity of dendritic cells is enhanced. In addition, the activity of these phagocytes can further activate important anti-cancer immune cells (CD8+ T cells) and effectively remove cancer.
Furthermore, the researchers found that doxorubicin, an existing anti-cancer drug that can induce the immunogenic death of cancer cells, coadministered with ROCK inhibitor can maximize tumor-specific immunity through immunogenic clearance. In particular, such therapeutic strategy not only effectively removes the primary tumor, but also prevents tumor recurrence by eliciting durable anti-tumor immunity.
Dr. Kim stated, “We have established a new understanding of ‘Intrinsic cancer vaccination’, which treats cancer by activating the intrinsic immune system of the human body to recognize cancer cells as an enemy. Moreover, ROCK inhibitor has already been approved for clinical use, and the strategy of combining this drug and doxorubicin opens the way for patients to access cancer immunotherapy easily instead of expensive treatments. It is expected to be used as a next-generation cancer immunotherapy that can overcome the limitations of current cancer immunotherapy.”
This research was published in recent issue of Nature Communications.