Cancer immunotherapy may also treat certain autoimmune diseases, claims study

A team of researchers at the University of Michigan has found that disrupting the interaction between cancer cells and certain immune cells is more effective at killing cancer cells than current immunotherapy treatments. The findings, which include studies in cell lines and animal models, appeared in JCI Insight and focus on a protein called CD6 as a target for a new approach to immunotherapy. Over the past two decades, new approaches to cancer treatment have been developed that block immune checkpoints, which are receptors on the surface of certain immune cells, like natural killer T cells. Cancer exploits these immune cells and renders them dormant. This treatment, called checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy, gives these immune cells a chance to fight back. Unfortunately, though, patients that become cancer-free are often left with autoimmune conditions that, in some patients, can eventually be fatal. Only approximately one-third of patients with cancer ultimately benefit from currently available immune checkpoint inhibitors. The research team was able to create man-made CD6 and CD318, a receptor that CD6 interacts with, to act like human antibodies in the immune system and fight off cancer cells. This new study proved successful in combatting human breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer in cell lines, indicating that the anti-CD6 antibody, known as UMCD6, could be useful in treating a wide range of cancer types. Now, when treated with UMCD6, Fox saw the mice show striking reductions in disease activity, autoimmunity and organ damage in mice.