Novel approach releases immune cells to destroy cancer cells

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 12:52 in Health & Medicine

A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center — using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice — has revealed new drug targets that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors, a promising new class of cancer immunotherapy. In findings published online today by Nature, the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s team — led by pediatric oncologist W. Nick Haining — reports that deletion of the Ptpn2 gene in tumor cells made them more susceptible to PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors. PD-1 blockade is a drug that “releases the brakes” on immune cells, enabling them to locate and destroy cancer cells. “PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors have transformed the treatment of many cancers, and opened the door to the possibility that immunotherapy will form part of the cure for cancer,” says Haining, senior author on the new paper, who is also associate...

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