Melanoma might be able to be “tricked” into responding to immunotherapy, according to recent research.
Checkpoint inhibitors are an effective treatment against melanoma, but fall short for patients missing certain UV-induced mutations in tumors. Currently, only around one-third of metastatic melanoma patients experience significant benefits from these medications, according to David E. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
However, Fisher’s research showed that while the mutations help to trigger immune responses to checkpoint inhibitors, the responses are not limited to the mutations themselves and have the ability to snowball from the initial response.
In mouse model experiments, Fisher found that subjects with melanomas containing a high amount of such mutations responded more positively to checkpoint inhibitor therapy than those with low levels of UV-induced mutations.
In the experiments, T-cells were able to remember normal melanocyte proteins in a phenomenon called epitope spreading—or, immune responses extended beyond initial UV mutations. Seventy-five percent of the study’s mice cured of UV-mutated melanoma rejected subsequent non-UV-mutated melanoma.
Fisher used these results to experiment with further melanoma treatments including checkpoint inhibitors, topical imquimod and fractional laser treatment for potential lines of treatment for melanoma patients with low mutation numbers.
For more, head to Dermatology Times (source).