Israeli researchers from the Technion in Haifa and the Sheba Medical Center say that they may be on the verge of making a major breakthrough in the treatment of lung cancer. In a study published in the Journal for Immunotherapy in Cancer (JITC).
Dr. Michael Peled of Sheba Medical Center conducted the study together with Prof. Arie Admon from the Technion and his PhD student Sofia Khazan-Kost. Michael Peled, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Institute of Pulmonary Medicine at Sheba Medical Center, affiliated with Tel Aviv University. He heads the Peled Lab, located in the Sheba Cancer Research Center. Its research aims to improve the treatment of patients suffering from cancer and autoimmune disease. His lab studies the response of tumors to the immune system, as well as mechanisms to promote immune cells’ capacity to recognize and eliminate malignant tumor cells.
When people suffer from lung related illnesses such as cancer and pneumonia their lungs can fill up with fluids that interfere with breathing. But according to this new study, the fluids can be used to develop a kind of vaccine tailored to treat the individual patient suffering from lung cancer.
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The Mayo Clinic explains that pulmonary edema is caused by too much fluid in the lungs. This fluid collects in the many air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
In most cases, heart problems cause pulmonary edema. But fluid can collect in the lungs for other reasons. These include pneumonia, contact with certain toxins, medications, trauma to the chest wall, and traveling to or exercising at high elevations. But now, if the scientists are right, these fluids can be used to save the patient’s life.
Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, explain the researchers, with most patients diagnosed at late stages, when survival is significantly shorter. Historically, these late-stage lung cancer patients were treated with chemoradiotherapy, which delays disease progression in some cases. New biological treatments, targeting driver mutations and immune checkpoints, have entered the arena, providing some hope of extending survival.
The researchers also explained that metastatic lung cancer is a deadly disease, whose treatment can benefit from T cell immunotherapy and anticancer vaccines. However, the required analysis of human leucocyte antigen (HLA) peptidome by mass spectrometry depends on the availability of a large amount of tumor cells, while metastatic lung tumors are usually biopsied only by a needle.
Since lung cancer is often accompanied by the accumulation of pleural effusion that contains soluble HLA molecules, we developed a methodology to purify and analyze the malignant pleural effusion soluble HLA class I peptidomes, aiming to discover biomarkers and immunotherapeutic targets.
So, basically, there are a number of molecules that build up in the bodily fluids that can teach us a great deal about a type of disease that a person might suffer. As such, these fluids, like lung fluids, can be used to find new treatments for illnesses. This is why doctors conduct urine tests of their patients – the urine contains remnants of all manner of enzymes and molecules released by the body when fighting disease. The presence of a particular substance can show doctors what disease a patient has. And now it may also be used to help cure the disease too.
“Body fluids such as blood, sweat, urine and saliva contain a variety of molecules from the various body tissues,” Dr. Admon explained to Israel’s Channel 12 News. “These molecules store extensive information about the condition of the tissues, including disruptions and cancerous development. Therefore, they may help in the early diagnosis of diseases, in preventive treatment and in the precise adjustment of the treatment to the patient.”
But, it must be pointed out that this study is still in its early stages and any such vaccine is a long way off and may not even ever actually be produced. So, people who already suffer from cancer should not get their hopes up that there will soon be a cure.