The study is being conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
It started in mice but then, in collaboration with a team from the University of Wisconsin’s College of Veterinary Medicine, tested a combination of targeted radiotherapy and immunotherapy as a treatment in pet dogs with naturally metastatic cancer with successful results, and without toxic side effects.
The researchers “combined TRT (targeted radionuclide therapy) with external radiotherapy to increase response to ICIs (immune checkpoint inhibitors) in mice with multiple tumors and confirmed the safety of TRT in two dogs with cancer.” In Science Translational Medicine.
“Almost half of the mice bearing ICI-resistant tumors showed a complete response to TRT, and the combination of TRT and ICI reduced metastases” and although they were optimistic about the results, they cautioned that “further studies are needed to evaluate TRT.” and ICI in humans.”
Specialists believe that cancer immunotherapies have revolutionized cancer treatments by boosting patients’ immune system. However, some patients have some resistance to immunotherapies and others have tumors that avoid the patient’s immune response to the cancer.
For these people, doctors already apply external beam radiation therapy, better known by its acronym EBRT, in which the patient is placed in a machine that directs radiation directly to the tumor, to make it more permeable for immunotherapies. However, this type of therapy (EBRT) is not recommended for patients with metastases, as it does not work in the presence of distant tumours, hence the importance of this research, which has not yet been authorized in humans.