The impact of a new treatment for lymphoma can be "significantly enhanced" with immunotherapy, researchers from Manchester University, UK, have reported.
The findings come from a study of the immune system protein TLR7, usually activated in response to viral infection.
The study in laboratory mice found that a TLR7 agonist stimulated NK cells and CD4 helper T-cells during treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma with obinutuzumab. But there was little impact on CD8 killer T-cells.
The researchers say their findings, first reported in Leukemia, provide a rationale for clinical testing of the combination.
Obinutuzumab is currently approved for very limited uses in the NHS.
Researcher Professor Tim Illidge said: “We were excited when we discovered that combining obinutuzumab with TLR7 activation significantly enhanced survival of animals with lymphoma by effectively eradicating tumours.
“Clearly, more work needs to be done to assess the impact of this combination on humans – but this study is nevertheless very promising.”
The findings were welcomed by Cancer Research UK.
Dr Justine Alford, from the charity, said: “This study in cells and mice may have found a new way to tap into the power of the immune system and boost a type of immunotherapy for blood cancers.
“Now the challenge will be to develop this potential treatment further and find out if it has similar results in people with cancer.”
Source: A TLR7 agonist enhances the antitumor efficacy of obinutuzumab in murine lymphoma models via NK cells and CD4 T cells Leukemia 3 January 2017; doi: 10.1038/leu.2016.352
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