Israeli researchers have discovered previously unknown amino acids on tumors, which could be exploited in the future to promote the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
Short chains of amino acids called peptides are essential for the success of immunotherapy; they work by activating T cells, which fight the cancer.
But many patients, derived from mutated cancer genes, do not have enough of these peptides to make immunotherapy successful.
Get the Daily Start Israel Get Started by email and don’t miss our free top stories
Peptide deficiency is seen as one of the reasons many people do not respond to check-in blocking drugs, which prevent the cancer from suppressing the immune response and activate the peptides.
“We have identified a new category of peptides, a type not derived from cancer DNA, that has been observed to date,” said Dr. Yardena Samuels, the study’s leading scholar, told The Times of Israel.
“We’ve also seen, in vitro, that they can activate T cells, which can be reactive against cancer,” she said.
Samuels research was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, which was peer-reviewed.
Her research so far has been limited to melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, but she believes the peptide is found in patients with other types of cancer as well.
Samuels, her team at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and her colleague Dr. Reuven Agami from the Dutch Cancer Institute, the new peptides aberrant peptides because they are different from the other known peptides.
They believe that the production of the peptide itself is stimulated by the eardrum itself.
“We saw these peptides on the tumors,” Samuels said.
Cancer experts could create new forms of immunotherapy that do not rely on the peptides that need modern treatment, but instead use the peptides that she discovered.
The use of these peptides to fight cancer is still theoretical, but to find them and understand that they could be used to fight cancer is “exciting,” she said.
“We can’t use this as a cure yet,” said Samuels. “But showing the presence of these peptides and activating T cells could increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy in the future. ”