Monday September 24, 2018

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 Drug May Treat Rare Pregnancy Cancer. Pixabay.
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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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Novel Blood Test May Predict Autism Risk in Babies During Pregnancy

These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism

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New blood test in pregnancy to predict autism risk in babies. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel blood test for pregnant mothers that can, with nearly 90 per cent accuracy rate, predict the probability of having a child that will be diagnosed with autism.

According to studies, if a mother has previously had a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with the developmental disorder is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.

In the study, led by Juergen Hahn, Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant mothers were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.

Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not.

Pregnancy
Representational image. Pixabay

Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.

The results, appearing in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, showed that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with autism by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with autism.

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“These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism,” Hahn said.

“However, it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into,” Hahn noted. (IANS)