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Scientists decode why immunotherapy fails for aggressive Glioblastoma Brain Cancer

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New research published in the popular journal named Nature Medicine recently examined the glioblastoma tumors to understand the reason behind diminished response of brain cancer to immunotherapy. Scientists are now a step closer to understand how other forms of cancer respond pretty well to the treatment but this one doesn’t.

Immunotherapy is a form of treatment which aims towards boosting our immune system to fight cancer-causing cells. This therapy has been effective time and again when it comes to treatment of aggressive versions of cancer like the triple-negative form of breast cancer. But, when it comes to glioblastoma, this process merely helps 1 in 10 patients. This version of the brain cancer comes with the median outlook lasting just 15 to 18 months maximum.

A team comprised of scientists with Raul Rabadan as the lead went ahead and studies the mystery behind immunotherapy failing against glioblastoma. Rabadan, a Ph.D. holder, and professor for biomedical informatics and systems biology for Columbia University Valegos College of Physicians and Surgeons at the NYC studied this issue and located that PD-1 protein had a substantial role when it comes to cancer.

As explained by the researchers, cancer tends to block out the immune system’s activity by affecting the protein named PD-1. This protein is present in the immune cells known as T-cells. Here, it helps to make sure that our immune system doesn’t actually overdo any response when it comes to reacting to the threats. When this PD-1 binds with another protein named PD-L1, it can stop the T-cells from taking over the healthy cells which include the tumor cells as well.

Some of the immunotherapy drugs function by blocking the PD-1 protein that releases all the brakes placed by the protein over our immune system. This allows the T-cells to run loose while killing off the cancer cells.

PD-1 inhibitors stand successful in a wide variety of cancer. This is why Prof. Rabadan with his colleagues wondered if these drugs could have similar effects over glioblastoma. The team studied these tumors in a microenvironment. The team studied the cells responsible for maintaining the tumor’s growth in at least 66 out of 100 people suffering from glioblastoma.

This research examined a tumor in the brain both before & after their treatment with PD-1 inhibitors named pembrolizumab or nivolumab. The study helped decode the fact that patients with MAPK mutations for glioblastoma responded way better to the immunotherapy treatment.

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