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Treating bone cancer with immunotherapy


T cell

A new type of immunotherapy, based on engineered immune cells, has successfully treated mice with bone cancer, raising the possibility for a more effective treatment for patients.


The study at University College London (UCL), UK, developed a treatment for the bone cancer osteosarcoma using a type of immune cell called a gamma-delta T cell (gdT cell), which are found in the blood – using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, is called immunotherapy.


gdT cells have natural properties that are beneficial for killing cancer – they can recognise tumour cells, for example – and can be safely transplanted/transferred between people without triggering rejection by the recipient’s body.


By engineering gdT cells to release antibodies that target tumours, and injecting it into mice with bone cancer, along with a drug to strengthen weak bones, the researchers saw that tumour growth was prevented and the mice were healthy three months later.


The approach offers several improvements to current treatments, including chemotherapy (which patients can become resistant to) and other forms of immunotherapy (which can be more expensive and time-consuming).


Jonathan Fisher, at UCL, said: “There is currently very little that can be done to cure [bone cancer] patients. However, this is an exciting step forward in finding a potential new treatment.”

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