Today, numerous vaccines protect people from many infectious diseases. But what will happen if this powerful weapon is sent to destroy another, even more dangerous target?
In a breakthrough study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, an international team of scientists suggests using rotavirus vaccines in the treatment of oncology. More specifically, the intent of specialists is to use these drugs to overcome resistance to cancer immunotherapy.
The team focused on the resistance that the body often renders to an immunotherapeutic treatment called checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Let us explain that some cancer cells have a protein called PD-L1. And the key soldiers in the army's immune system, T cells, have a protein known as PD1 on their surface.
PD-L1 is the ligand of PD1. When a T cell binds to the healthy cell PD-L1 protein using the latter, it realizes that it does not need to be attacked.
Meanwhile, insidious malignant cells having the PD-L1 protein can, with its help, escape from vigilant T cells, posing as healthy ones. Subsequently, they multiply and spread.
Control point inhibitors, in turn, prevent such “scouts” from getting through the “checkpoint”.
Such drugs are used to treat many types of oncology, for example, Hodgkin's lymphoma, lung cancer, bladder, ovaries and kidneys.
However, the problem is that cancer cells can develop resistance to such therapy. In this case, T cells cannot inhibit the growth of deadly tumors.
And here comes the finest hour of rotavirus vaccines.
The researchers found that these drugs (by the way, already proven to be safe and approved for use) increase the effectiveness of treatment with checkpoint inhibitors and can be used as anti-cancer agents.
"We found that rotavirus vaccines have both immunostimulating and oncolytic properties. In addition, they can directly kill cancer cells. Intratumor rotavirus therapy has an antitumor effect, which is mainly immuno-mediated," said Tal, the first author of the study. Shekarian (Tala Shekarian), an employee of the Cancer Research Center in Lyon and the University Hospital of Basel.
She clarified that the team has already classified RotaTek and Rotariks among the rotavirus vaccines with such properties.
At the moment, studies have been conducted on cell lines and animal models, and the results have pleasantly surprised scientists.
In particular, rotavirus vaccines activated the transcription factor NF-κB in human cells. This has enhanced protection against model cancer resistant to control point inhibitors.
Additional studies have shown that rotavirus vaccines also activate the intracellular RIG-I receptor. This stimulates the immune response, and protective cells come to the aid of the body.
"In some models of mouse tumors, the intratumoral rotavirus vaccine helped to cope with resistance to immunotherapy and enhanced the effect of treatment aimed at control points," Shekaryan added.
This study will undoubtedly be an important milestone in the history of the development of highly effective anti-cancer therapy. After all, it suggests that not only rotaviruses, but also other viruses (weakened during the creation of vaccines) also have powerful antitumor properties.
The team also believes that the oncolytic properties of well-studied viruses can be used to create antitumor immunity in humans.
According to experts, in order to increase the efficiency of future work in this area, it is necessary to rely primarily on already tested and commercially available drugs.
“Rotavirus vaccines are a product for children and adults, intended for clinical use. Therefore, immunization strategies using intratumoral attenuated rotavirus can quickly be introduced into clinical practice,” concludes Dr. Shekaryan.
By the way, earlier Vesti.Nauka (nauka.vesti.ru) talked about other important studies that will increase the effectiveness of the fight against oncology. Thus, scientists propose to carry out a complete sequencing of the genome of a malignant neoplasm in order to develop an individual approach to the treatment of each patient, and also create a “magic pill” that will relieve many types of cancer at once.
We have also written more than once about the “viral approach” to the treatment of oncology: in the arsenal of scientists are reoviruses, Zika virus, polio virus and Coxsackie virus.
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