immunotherapy targeting skin cancer

Study demonstrates potential of immunotherapy targeting skin cancer


A new type of immunotherapy has potential for fighting the most aggressive form of skin cancer, finds research.

A study by researchers at King’s College London and St Thomas’ and Guy’s NHS Foundation Trust, investigates the potential of a novel antibody to target and treat melanomas. The findings show that the antibody triggers the immune response to fight cancer and delays melanoma growth in mice.

Clinically, malignant melanoma is the most threatening type of skin cancer with low survival rates for half of patients within five-years of diagnosis. Although there has been significant advancement in developing immunotherapies, the tumors in many patients do not respond. This drug could serve to benefit patients with melanoma who do not respond to currently available treatment.

Many immunotherapies currently used in cancer treatment belong to IgG antibody type. However, researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London have created IgE antibody which can use the patient’s own immune system to invade cancer differently.

The team of researchers developed IgE antibody that distinctly serves as an indicator on the exterior of human melanoma cells. These cells known as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4) are present in up to 70% of melanomas. Meanwhile, existing immunotherapies broadly draw upon the immune system’s defences; on the other hand, this novel antibody is designed to target immune responses specifically toward melanoma cells.

The researchers demonstrated that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan IgE could join with and activate immune cells present in the blood of melanoma patient to destroy melanoma cancer cells. CSPG4 IgE treatment delayed cancer growth in mice injected with human immune cells. An allergy test carried out on patient revealed that CSPG4 IgE refrained from activating while blood cells called basophils, suggesting the therapy may be safe to be administered

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