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Fundamental research

17 - 01 - 2018

Immunotherapy: a new fundamental discovery

Researchers have found that the efficacy of anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy depends on the expression of the PD-L1 protein by the host's immune system rather than by cancer cells.


Immunotherapy is a very effective anti-cancer treatment, but only for about a quarter of patients. Understanding why only some patients are affected is important for current cancer research.


A team of researchers focused on anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy that aims to release the immune system from a tumor-produced brake.



This team studied in several mouse models of human cancers (melanoma, colon cancer, ovarian cancer or lung cancer) the link between the expression of the PD-L1 protein on mouse or tumor cells, and the effectiveness of immunotherapy.


It appeared that the expression of PD-L1 on mouse immune cells (macrophages and dendritic cells) present in the tumor or near ganglia, was essential for the effectiveness of the therapy while the expression of this protein by the tumor cells seems to play only a secondary role.


This finding was confirmed by examining the tissues of treated patients.


According to this study, the search for the expression of PD-L1 by the tumor cells before using immunotherapy should be extended to the cells of the patient's immune system.


Research is ongoing in preclinical and clinical settings to better understand the conditions for effective immunotherapy in all patients.