An Israeli-led research team has developed a potential new treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), using a targeted drug and immunotherapy, Ben Gurion University (BGU) in southern Israel has announced. The findings, co-authored by Israeli, Chinese, French, German and US researchers, were published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported. Through pre-clinical study, the researchers found a new treatment combination of Trametinib, a cancer drug that brings a type of killer white blood cells to the cancer site, and Anti-PD-1, an immunotherapy that not kills cancer cells directly but blocks a pathway on immune cells to make them more engaged in fighting tumors.
In traditional clinical treatment, Trametinib has not shown efficiency in inhibiting the targetted hyper-active pathway of cancer cells, said the research. Researchers then analysed tumor-host interaction that facilitates immune escape in tumor-bearing mice, and found that using a short Trametinib treatment can make resistant tumors more sensitive to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. "We sincerely hope that oncologists will test this treatment combination in HNC patients, as improving immunotherapy efficacy is crucial for prolonging the survival of cancer patients," the study's correspondent author Moshe Elkabets was quoted by the BGU statement as saying.