Disabled spell-checker identifies patients who may benefit from immune therapy
Courtesy of Merck & Co.
Mutations that prevent cells from spell-checking their DNA may make cancer cells vulnerable to immunotherapies, a new study suggests.
A type of immune therapy known as PD-1 blockade controlled cancer in 77 percent of patients with defects in DNA mismatch repair — the system cells use to spell-check and fix errors in DNA (SN Online: 10/7/15). The therapy was effective against 12 different types of solid tumors, including colorectal, gastroesophageal and pancreatic cancers, and even tumors of unknown origin, researchers report June 8 in Science.
“Where the tumor started doesn’t matter. What matters is why the tumor started,” says study coauthor Richard Goldberg, an oncologist at West Virginia University Cancer Institute in Morgantown.