New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

Read the latest cancer research and recognition from the members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle.
April 10, 2017
Understanding why immunotherapy drugs work in some patients but not others

Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘03-‘08) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues, reported that matching the size of a tumor to the body's immune response could help doctors tailor immunotherapy treatments for melanoma patients whose disease has spread. Immunotherapy activates tumor-fighting T cells to target cancer, but these immune cells can lose their effectiveness or become “exhausted.” The study identified three different ways by which PD-1 blocking immunotherapies can fail: the drug doesn't re-invigorate exhausted T-cells, an immune response is not strong enough for the size of the tumor, and the drug is off target. Using these factors, the researchers developed a scoring system to more accurately predict how likely it is a treatment will work. The study was published in the scientific journal Nature.