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Researchers Discover New Method to Treat Cancer


Research at Oxford University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine has identified a novel therapeutic regimen for the treatment of cancer that provides significant advantages over the existing methods of cancer treatment.

There are already a number of regimens available for treatment of cancer, including chemotherapy, which is commonly used to treat a number of different types of cancer. In most cases chemotherapeutic agents are given at the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), but at such doses the treatments can only be given in short courses and often have unacceptable side effects. In recent years, the use of immunotherapy for tumours has also increased, but tumour cells have been shown to evade immunotherapy by mutating to avoid presentation of the specific tumour epitope to the immune system. It has previously been suggested that a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy may prove effective as a treatment. However, this has not proved ideal since conventional chemotherapy suppresses the immune system, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the immunotherapy.

Researchers in Oxford have now devised a novel therapeutic regimen that combines the advantages of both chemotherapy and immunotherapy whilst reducing the disadvantages of each. It has been shown that chemotherapeutic agents can have a beneficial effect at doses lower than the MTD (such a dosing regimen has become known as metronomic dosing). Metronomic dosing, whilst not being as aggressive as the MTD regimen, has fewer side effects and can be used for longer periods without a break. The researchers have identified a metronomic regimen that does not cause the severe immunosuppression of standard chemotherapy and so opens the possibility of combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Furthermore, they have shown that such a combination therapy is more effective at inhibiting tumour growth than either chemotherapy (at MTD or as a metronomic dose), or immunotherapy alone or than immunotherapy in combination with chemotherapy at MTD.

Isis Innovation, Oxford University’s technology transfer company, has filed a patent on this exciting Oxford discovery. Companies interested in product developments arising from this work are invited to contact Isis to discuss how they could utilise this technology.

Jennifer Johnson | alfa
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