A class of drug currently being used to treat leukaemia has the unexpected side-effect of boosting immune responses against many different cancers, reports a new study led by scientists at UCL (University College London) and the Babraham Institute, Cambridge.
The drugs, called p110δ inhibitors, have shown such remarkable efficacy against certain leukaemias in recent clinical trials that patients on the placebo were switched to the real drug. Until now, however, they have not been tested in other types of cancer.
The new study, published in Nature, provides the first evidence that such drugs can significantly restrict tumour growth and spread and reduce the chances of relapse for a broad range of cancers. The researchers at UCL, the Babraham Institute and Queen Mary University of London, together with scientists from Genentech, South San Francisco, showed that inhibition of the p110δ enzyme helps to boost the body's immune system to kill tumour cells. The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
"Our study shows that p110δ inhibitors have the potential to offer effective immunity to many types of cancer by unleashing the body's own immune response," says study co-leader Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck of the UCL Cancer Institute, who first discovered the p110δ enzyme in 1997. "p110δ is highly expressed and important in white blood cells, called 'leukocytes'. Given that leukaemias are the result of leukocytes becoming cancerous, they are a natural target for p110δ inhibitors. Now, we have shown that blocking p110δ also has the remarkable effect of boosting the body's immune response against leukaemias as well as other cancers."
The team showed that inhibiting p110δ in mice significantly increased cancer survival rates across a broad range of tumour types, both solid and haematological cancers. For example,
|Contact: Harry Dayantis|
University College London