2 March 2020
In addition to traditional surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, more rapidly developing immunotherapy is also being used to contain and treat cancer. In this case, the patient's body is called upon to help identify the tumour cells. For the time being, the procedure may have several side effects, inflammations may develop in the body. That is why more and more research is being conducted. Researchers in Pécs and Debrecen are developing therapies that are effective against inflammatory diseases as well.
Cancer causes the death of millions of people every year; it is one of the greatest health challenges facing humanity. James P. Allison and Hondzso Taszuku received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for developing a new cancer therapy method. Tumour therapy is based on the inhibition of negative immune regulation. Our immune system is able to recognize the tumour and, if recognized, the immune system can also kill it.
Ágnes Bartos, chief physician at the Department of Internal Medicine and Oncology at Semmelweis University said in the M5 channel’s Multiverzum show that every body, even the healthy ones produce cancer cells every day but if the immune system works well, the immune cells can kill the malignant cells. However, cancer cells have a mechanism by which they try to suppress or inhibit the immune response. One of the main lines of immunotherapy is precisely that it inhibits the function of suppressor lymphocytes, that is, it inhibits the inhibitory effect of tumour cells, which results in an increase in the activity of the lymphocytes, the immune cells. Therefore, by inhibiting inhibition, stimulation is produced.
Immunoncology does not focus on the destruction of tumour cells like chemotherapy. Instead, it activates the body, the immune system. The cure has been successfully applied in more and more places in Hungary, especially in the case of melanoma or lung cancer. According to Ágnes Bartos, they have found the greatest effectiveness in the case of melanomas and lung cancers in clinical trials because these are so-called immunogenic cancers.
"This means that the tumour cells on their surface contain many proteins, receptors called antigens, which are indicative to immune cells," she added. These signals are recognized as foreign by immune cells and as a result, the immune response is generated.
Ágnes Bartos said that in the case of melanomas, usually as a result of UV light, a large number of tumorous derogations occur in the genes and such proteins are produced, which then trigger an immune response. In the case of lung cancers, smoking generates so many mutations in tumour cells that they make tumour cells recognizable.
For the time being, the procedure may have several side effects and inflammations may develop in the body. That is why more and more research is being conducted. Researchers in Pécs and Debrecen are developing therapies that are effective against inflammatory diseases as well. The research is based on investigating the effects of peptides. Peptides are small molecules but have a great effect on the human body. For example, in some neurodegenerative diseases, polypeptides are converted, which eventually leads to the death of nerve cells.
Professor Dóra Reglődi, Head of the University of Pécs Medical School Department of Anatomy said that the goal is to be able to apply the procedure in human medicine in the near future but it is necessary to explore the mechanism of the various diseases, how they are formed and how the proteins prevent their further development. The results of current research will facilitate the lives of people who have skin and joint inflammation but may also help alleviate other painful inflammations.