Australian scientists could have found the ‘masterswitch’ to kill cancer

As I have benefited greatly from immunotherapy, I am pleased to hear of another imunotherapy advance. Specific substances are needed to energize attacks on specific types of cell. Keytruda worked like a charm on my SCCs

Queensland medical researchers are on the brink of a staggering breakthrough that sees palpable tumours completely melting away, offering hope to sufferers of two of the deadliest types of cancers.

QIMR Berghofer scientists have potentially found the “masterswitch” that turns on the immune system to target disease in patients with triple-negative breast cancer and the most common form of bowel cancer, Micro Satellite Stable (MSS) bowel cancer.

The remarkable research findings could finally provide hope for a new, effective therapy but funding is desperately needed to progress the exciting preclinical results into clinical trials.

Associate Professor Michelle Wykes, group leader of Molecular Immunology at QIMR Berghofer, discovered the potential “masterswitch” that turns on a key type of immune cell called dendritic cells while researching immune responses to malaria.

Dendritic cells act like the generals of the immune system waking up other immune cells such as T cells and telling them what to attack and the weapons to use. However, cancer cells are very good at hiding from the immune system. In preclinical testing, the “masterswitch” antibodies make the cancers visible again, so the dendritic cells can go back to work and ‘organise’ the T cells to kill the cancer.

Associate Professor Wykes said further testing of the “masterswitch” antibodies on cancer patient blood samples produced similar results to the testing in preclinical lab work.

“We’re seeing palpable tumours that completely disappear and melt away. In our preclinical lab models, 80 per cent of both the triple negative breast cancers and colon cancers were cleared and hadn’t grown back after ten months. We’re seeing similar results from our tests on samples taken from patients with colon cancer,” she said.

“These patients urgently need help and I have something that I think could really help them, but we need funding to bring us together with a treatment. We’re appealing to the generosity of Australians this Christmas to help us advance this vital research and bring hope to patients and their loved ones,” Assoc Prof Wykes said.

Brisbane mum Justine Dillon was at peak physical fitness when she was diagnosed with highly aggressive stage four bowel cancer and given 18 months to live.

The researchers are working with clinicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital who collected samples from patients for the researchers to test in the laboratory.


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