In the recent past, immune-based treatments for cancer have upped the hopes of both doctors and patients alike. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that have provided lifesaving benefits to an expanding list of people with several types of cancers such as lung cancer and melanoma.
Despite the availability of these drugs, the inability of doctors to predict which patients will benefit from them is frustrating.
A study carried out by a team of reserachers reported in Science Tranlational Medicine reports a specific pattern of markers on blood immune cells is a key biomarker in response to checkpoint immunotherapy. Within the immune signature, LAG-3 is a molecule that provides key information to identify patients with poorer outcomes.
The correlation with biomarkers was found in a patient group with metastatic melanoma, and further validated in a second pool of patients with metastatic bladder cancer. It suggests that the potential biomarker may be broadly used for patients with various types of cancers.
The large patient pool with common characteristics, robust clinical follow-up, and rigorous statistical approach of the research initiative is exciting. It points out that immune signature indicates something important about patient response to immunotherapy and why.
Furthermore, the findings is a head start for prospective clinical trials that are designed to test if incorporating biomarker in patient care can improve outcomes for the ones who are less likely to benefit from existing line of treatments.
The discoveries made by the research team had data on their side. Meanwhile, in terms of facility, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a stock of stored blood from hundreds of patients that received treatment over the years.