Tuesday July 23, 2019

Immunotherapy Drug Pembrolizumab May Treat Rare Pregnancy Cancer, Says Research

An immunotherapy drug - Pembrolizumab- has the potential to treat a rare pregnancy cancer belonging to a group of diseases called gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD), results of a clinical trial show

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Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy Drug May Treat Rare Pregnancy Cancer. Pixabay.

London, Nov 27: An immunotherapy drug has the potential to treat a rare pregnancy cancer belonging to a group of diseases called gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD), results of a clinical trial show.

Three out of four patients with the cancerous forms of GTD went into remission after receiving the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab in a clinical trial carried out by researchers at London’s Imperial College.

The findings, published in the journal Lancet, suggest that immunotherapy could be used as a a safer alternative to conventional treatment for the disease.

Pembrolizumab is the trial drug/ immunotherapeutic agent:

The trial, which took place at Charing Cross Hospital, is the first to show that Pembrolizumab can be used to successfully treat women with GTD, according to the study

The researchers hope that this small early stage study could provide another treatment option for women who have drug-resistant GTD and lead to a 100 per cent cure rate.

“We have been able to show for the first time that immunotherapy may be used to cure patients of cancerous GTD,” said Professor Michael Seckl, lead author of the study.

The current treatments to tackle GTD cure most cases of the disease. However, there are a small number of women whose cancers are resistant to conventional therapies and as a result have a fatal outcome,” Seckl added.

“Immunotherapy may be a life-saving treatment and can be used as an alternative to the much more toxic high dose chemotherapy that is currently used,” Seckl said.

GTD is the term used to describe abnormal cells or tumors that start in the womb from cells that normally give rise to the placenta. They are extremely rare but can happen during or after pregnancy.

Globally, 18,000 women are diagnosed annually with cancerous forms of GTD, most of whom are cured with chemotherapy or surgery.

However, up to five per cent of these women’s outcomes are fatal due to factors such as chemotherapy resistance and rare forms of the cancer such as placental site trophoblastic tumours (PSTT) that develop four or more years after the causative pregnancy has ended. (IANS)

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Consuming High- Fibre Diet may Reduce Risk of Preeclampsia During Pregnancy

Pregnancy outcomes and infant immunity are linked to gut bacteria

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The mother's gut bacteria and diet appear to be crucial to promoting healthy pregnancy. Pixabay

Ladies, please take note. Consuming a high-fibre diet may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy, researchers have found.

“Simple recommendation to ‘eat real food, mostly plants and not too much’ might be the most effective primary prevention strategy for some of the most serious conditions of our time.

“The mother’s gut bacteria and diet appear to be crucial to promoting healthy pregnancy,” said study lead author Ralph Nanan, Professor at the University of Sydney.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, showed that pregnancy outcomes and infant immunity are linked to gut bacteria.

Fibre, Diet, Pregnancy
Ladies, please take note. Pixabay

Plant-based fibre is broken down in the gut by bacteria into factors that influence the immune system. The research team investigated the role of these metabolic products of gut bacteria during pregnancy.

The researchers found that in humans, reduced levels of acetate, which is mainly produced by fibre fermentation in the gut, is associated with the common and serious pregnancy-related condition preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia occurs in up to 10 per cent of pregnancies and is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and severe swelling in the mother’s body.

It also interferes with the child’s immune development whilst in the womb, with some evidence suggesting a link to higher rates of allergies and autoimmune diseases later in life.

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The study found that preeclampsia affected the development of an important foetal immune organ – the thymus – which sits just behind the breastbone.

Foetuses in preeclamptic pregnancies were found to have a much smaller thymus than children from healthy pregnancies.

The cells the thymus normally generates — called ‘T’ cells, and specifically those associated with the prevention of allergies and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes — also remained lower in infants after preeclampsia, even four years after delivery.

Fiber, Diet, Pregnancy
Consuming a high-fibre diet may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy, researchers have found. Pixabay

The mechanisms of acetate on the developing foetal immune system were further examined in separate experiments involving mice that showed acetate was central in driving foetal thymus and ‘T’ cell development.

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The results showed that promoting specific metabolic products of gut bacteria during pregnancy might be an effective way to maintain a healthy pregnancy and to prevent allergies and autoimmune conditions later in life. (IANS)