Immunotherapy is a relatively novel way of treating cancer. It entails boosting one’s immune system so it can locate and destroy cancer cells. This type of treatment is typically recommended for patients suffering from cases of advanced cancer, and it can be used to address conditions such as kidney cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Since immunotherapy has only been around since the 1980s, researchers and clinicians are constantly working to make the treatment safer and more effective for cancer patients. A team of researchers from UCLA and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have now created a new computational platform that could potentially allow them to widen the pool of conditions that can be targeted by immunotherapy.
This novel tool can discover tumor antigens that are derived from alternative RNA splicing. The research team stated that although immunotherapy had revolutionized cancer treatment, their knowledge of antigens to target in cancers such as pediatric cancer was still lacking, emphasizing the need to broaden the repertoire of practicable immunotherapy targets.
Yi Xing, director of the Center for Computational and Genomic Medicine at CHOP and cosenior author, stated that the team’s computational model could pick out immunotherapy targets that originated from alternative splicing. This allowed the team to develop a larger framework for the discovery of actionable immunotherapy targets that were derived from alternative RNA splicing, Xing added.
While immunotherapy has proven its efficiency against hematologic cancers, which are cancers that arise from blood forming tissue such as bone marrow or immune system cells, clinicians have been unable to deploy this treatment against solid tumors. This is mostly because we still don’t know which antigens to target during immunotherapy to treat solid tumors.
Researchers believe that the dysregulation of RNA splicing in tumors is what creates new cancer antigens for immunotherapy, but they have struggled to identify and target the most suitable antigens. IRIS addresses this problem by analyzing large-scale normal RNA sequencing and tumor data and leveraging several screening techniques to find tumor antigens caused by alternative splicing.
Owen N. Witte, MD, a professor of immunology, microbiology and molecular genetics, noted that this discovery of a novel antigen target could significantly expand the scope of cell-based therapies. Witte is also a member of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA.
Research on the computational model was cofounded by several organizations and published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” journal.
Many other entities such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are also investing in immunotherapy research. As the years go by, this form of treatment is likely to play a more prominent role in helping cancer patients manage or even recover from their afflictions.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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