Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.
The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.
“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”
One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.
Immuno-oncology is a rapidly evolving field in its own right but has significant tailwinds behind in the form of the falling cost of genetic sequencing and the gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9. Together with decades of progressive research in the oncology field the prospect of a cure for cancers of many different hues is within reach.
However, right now the majority of treatments in the investible universe are focusing on T-cell editing or activation. If the above treatment reaches commercial utility, and the tone of commentary suggests they are rapidly moving towards human trials, there is the prospect that T-cell alteration could be leapfrogged by simply activating the immune system where necessary without tailored editing.
In the meantime, the Loncar Immunotherapy ETF bounced this week from the upper side of its underlying range and a sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question medium-term scope for continued upside.
This additional article may also be of interest.
Oncology is both expensive and an increasing cost of national healthcare systems just about everywhere. Considering how much pressure healthcare costs are putting on both individuals and governments anything that can reduce the cost of treatment and also improve outcomes represents a considerable benefit for the economy by increasing individual productivity and working life.
This before and after picture from the above study highlights just how profound the change is.