Wednesday September 19, 2018

Whole-brain radiation technique to treat brain cancer causes memory loss: Study

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Washington: The widely used whole-brain radiation technique to treat brain cancer is not an effective strategy and results in more memory loss than treating patients with radiotherapy alone, study says.

First used in 1954, whole-brain radiation has long been a standard strategy for brain metastases (cancer cells that have spread to the brain from primary tumours in other organs in the body).

“The potential benefits of whole brain radiation therapy are far outweighed by the detriments of the therapy itself,” Paul Brown, professor of radiation oncology at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Centre was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal report.

For the study, patients were assigned to either radiosurgery followed by whole-brain radiation or radiosurgery alone.

The research involved 213 patients, who had one to three small tumours or metastases in the brain.

Patients treated with both approaches performed significantly worse three months later on tests involving cognitive abilities.

Median overall survival was 7.5 months for those receiving both treatments and 10.7 months for those on radiosurgery alone.

Both whole-brain radiation and recurrent metastases are “bad for the brain.”

Lung cancer is the most common malignancy to spread to the brain, followed by breast cancer and melanoma.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on May 31. (IANS)

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Decoded: How Cancer Cells Cripple Immune System

Anti-PD1 therapy blocks interaction between PD-1 -- a protein on the surface of T-cells -- and PD-L1, PD-1's counterpart molecule on tumour cells, thus reinvigorating T-cells and allowing them to unleash killing power on the tumour

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The research offers a paradigm-shifting picture of how cancers take a systemic approach to suppressing the immune system. Pixabay

Researchers have found that cancer cells send out biological “drones” to fight the immune system and survive.

The study showed that cancer cells release “drones” — small vesicles called exosomes circulating in the blood and armed with proteins called PD-L1 that cause T-cells to tire before they have a chance to reach the tumour.

The research offers a paradigm-shifting picture of how cancers take a systemic approach to suppressing the immune system.

In addition, it also points to a new way to predict which cancer patients will respond to anti-PD1 therapy that disrupts immune suppression to fight tumours.

“Immunotherapies are life-saving for many patients with metastatic melanoma, but about 70 per cent of these patients don’t respond,” said Guo Wei, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“These treatments are costly and have toxic side effects so it would be very helpful to know which patients are going to respond,” Wei added.

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Representational image. Pixabay

Anti-PD1 therapy blocks interaction between PD-1 — a protein on the surface of T-cells — and PD-L1, PD-1’s counterpart molecule on tumour cells, thus reinvigorating T-cells and allowing them to unleash killing power on the tumour.

In the study, published in the journal Nature, the team found that exosomes from human melanoma cells also carried PD-L1 on their surface. Exosomal PD-L1 can directly bind to and inhibit T-cell functions.

Identification of the exosomal PD-L1 secreted by tumour cells provides a major update to the immune checkpoint mechanism, and offers novel insight into tumour immune evasion.

Also Read: SPF30 Sunscreens may Delay Onset of Skin Cancer

According to the researchers, exosomes are tiny lipid-encapsulated vesicles with a diameter less than 1/100 of a red blood cell.

Since a single tumour cell is able to secrete many copies of exosomes, the interaction between the PD-L1 exosomes and T-cells provides a systemic and highly effective means to suppress anti-tumour immunity in the whole body. This may explain why cancer patients might have weakened immune system, they noted. (IANS)

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