A recently discovered molecule is able to shrink tumors as well as improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy, as revealed by a research team from the Manchester Cancer Research Centre at The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The scientists have started studying the body’s own immune system capacity to attack tumor cells and have revealed the potential of the DSR-6434 molecule, entitled, “A novel systemically administered toll-like receptor 7 agonist potentiates the effect of ionizing radiation in murine solid tumor models.“
The investigators analyzed a molecule known for activating another protein that influences the immune system, and discovered that DSR-6434, when administered together with radiotherapy, leads to tumor shrinkage, as well as it increases long-term survival. In addition, the research team also discovered that the combination treatment is able to reduce the occurrence of secondary lung tumors.
“We have already seen a strong immune system response from other immunotherapy agents in combination with radiation, this new agent appears to be even more potent,” stated Professor Ian Stratford, from Manchester Pharmacy School who, with Professor Tim Illidge, led the research published in the International Journal of Cancer.
“It looks like there’s good reason to use radiotherapy alongside immunotherapy agents in the treatment of solid tumors. These results strongly suggest that this sort of combination therapy should be evaluated in clinical trials with cancer patients,” Professor Stratford added.
The analysis was conducted using mouse models of two different types of cancer, as the scientists studied the molecule alone and in combination with radiotherapy in order to measure its effects on the primary tumor and the number of secondary tumors in the lungs. The study was also performed in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Dainippon Sumitomo Pharm.
It was already known that the topical cream imiquimod was effective in the treatment of skin cancer, which uses immune cells through a molecule called toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), a protein that is able to identify abnormal and potentially harmful substances.
A previous research also conducted at the University of Manchester previously suggested that the immune system can be stimulated into generating an immune response against non-skin cancers by injecting an agent similar to TLR7 into the blood. In fact, the interest in studying the body’s own immune system capacity to attack tumour cells is a result of its lack of side effects, on contrary to conventional chemotherapy, being also effective.