Researchers have reportedly identified a new type of immune cell which could have a massive impact on lung cancer.
Scientists say that it will be possible to predict which lung cancer patients will benefit most from treatment with immunotherapy by utilising the newly discovered cell.
Cancer Research UK has been involved in the funding of the study, which has been published in the journal Nature Immunotherapy.
And researchers demonstrated that lung cancer patients with a high level of tissue-resident memory T-cells in their tumour were 34% less likely to die.
Researchers at the University of Southampton and La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, California were involved in the study.
And they also found that the behaviour of cells had a significant impact on the chances of survival, as they clustered together and ‘took up residency’ in the cancer tissue to protect the patient.
The T-cells also produce molecules that attack tumours, possibly resulting in a cancer being more visible to the immune system.
As testing continues, it is hoped that the utilisation of the cells will help experts identify patients that will benefit most from immunotherapy.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo and MSD’s Keytruda are two of the most commonly used currently, with both therapies utilised in order to catalyse the ability of the human anatomy to fight the cancer.
Researchers also believe that the T-cell could be effectively used as a template to develop a vaccine to boost immunotherapy even further.
Professor Christian Ottensmeier, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Southampton, was hugely enthused about the potential of the results.
“For the first time we have a real indication of who might benefit from a particular drug before we make treatment decisions. So far when we use immunotherapy we do not know if a patient will benefit. The new findings are a big step towards making this exciting treatment much more predictable.”
Ottensmeier also explained how research will impact on the clinical process.
“Our results will also make the treatment pathway more reassuring for our patients. And if we can translate our finding into clinical practice, then we will also save patients unnecessary side effects and reduce costs to the NHS.”
Around 35,600 people die from lung cancer each year in the UK, making it the most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
However, as research and treatment methods become more sophisticated, lung cancer incidence rates are projected to fall by 7% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 88 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.