February 26, 2024
New Tool Determines Cancer Patient Response To Immunotherapy

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a new tool to determine whether a cancer patient is predisposed to an advanced kind of treatment called immunotherapy. 

The immune system contains “checkpoints” to prevent it from attacking cancer cells too strongly, as this would also potentially damage nearby healthy cells. 

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) suppress this action and allow the immune system to attack the cancer cells, but they are only effective in less than 40 percent of patients and tools currently being used to predict the drug’s efficacy are not completely accurate. 

Now, according to Prof. Keren Yizhak and Ofir Shorer, how well a patient responds to ICI therapy can be predicted by the metabolic activity in their immune system cells, as they battle any cancer cells in their environment for nutrients and other resources. 

The two are members of the Technion’s Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences. 

To make sure of the accuracy of the tool, Yizhak and Shorer analyzed some 1,700 metabolic genes taken from over one million immune cells of cancer patients receiving ICI. 

The study was recently published under the title “Metabolic predictors of response to immune checkpoint blockade therapy” by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.