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Metal-containing chemotherapy increases immune response to cancer
So far, damage to the immune system has been associated with metal-containing chemotherapy. However, researchers have now found that metal chemotherapy can even increase the immune response against cancer and thus immunotherapy.
The number of cancers is increasing
More and more people are getting cancer. According to the World Cancer Report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 20 million new cases of cancer could occur worldwide by 2025. In Germany, the number of new diagnoses has almost doubled since 1970. After cancer is diagnosed, surgery, radiation and / or chemotherapy often follow. For some years now, doctors have also been relying on immunotherapy for cancer. As researchers have now found, this treatment can be enhanced by chemotherapy containing metals.
So far, damage to the immune system has been assumed
Because of their strong tumor-killing effect, metal-containing chemotherapy is often used in cancer therapy.
Because of the cytotoxic (cell-damaging) effect also against dividing healthy cells, damage to the immune system has previously been assumed.
However, the research cluster "Translational Cancer Therapy Research", which was set up by the University of Vienna together with the Medical University (MedUni) Vienna, now proves the opposite in a scientific review article.
According to a statement from the universities, metal chemotherapy can even increase the immune response against cancer and thus immunotherapy.
This is partly because they make the cancer cells "more visible" and eliminate inhibitory immune components.
The researchers' article appeared in the Chemical Reviews journal.
Illuminated more than 1,300 scientific articles
According to the information, the inter-university research cluster "Translational Cancer Therapy Research" in its review highlights all work (in total over 1,300 scientific articles) that deal with the interaction between the immune system and metal-containing chemotherapy.
In addition to publications from the past 30 years, lead author Walter Berger from MedUni Vienna and his colleagues also discuss new aspects and draw up a comprehensive inventory.
"The result clearly shows that the combination of metal-containing chemotherapy and immunotherapy is one of the most promising therapy concepts of the present and the future," said Berger.
Metal chemotherapy also destroys inhibitory components of the immune system
The explanation behind this finding: Every cancer is preceded by a long struggle between the immune system and the potential cancer cells, which the immune system eventually loses.
The reason for this is that the tumor either fails to be generally recognized as foreign or controls the immune cells and immobilizes them.
Metal chemotherapy not only destroys tumor cells, but also prefers the "burned out" or inhibitory components of the immune system.
In response to this, the immune system renews itself from stem cells, making it quasi rejuvenated and functional in the fight against cancer.
Therefore, metal-containing chemotherapy also increases the effect of immune checkpoint inhibitors.
The reason: tumor cells emerge from body cells. The immune system is trained to spare the body's own cells and therefore can or hardly recognize tumor cells.
Metal-containing chemotherapy now kills the tumor cells, which change in the process of decay. This difference makes them visible and vulnerable to the immune system again, a mechanism known as "immunogenic cell death".
At the same time, the tumor cells "try" to escape the effects of the chemotherapy drug on the basis of an increased mutation rate. However, each of the new mutations thus created has the potential to be better recognized by the rejuvenated immune system.
Thus chemoresistant tumor cell clones seem to be attacked preferentially by the immune system. (ad)