Chemotherapy Shows Immunotherapy-Like Effect in Bladder Cancer, Study Shows

PHILADELPHIA (March 16, 2017) — Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center and collaborating institutions have shown that response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy may involve the immune system in muscle-invasive localized bladder cancer patients. Philip H. Abbosh, MD, PhD, assistant research professor at Fox Chase, led a research team searching for evidence that chemotherapy may activate the immune system to eradicate bladder cancer. A poster of the study is being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2017 in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 4.

“Chemotherapy works by damaging cancer cells, but it may also enable the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells,” said Abbosh. “Patients whose tumors completely responded to pre-surgical chemotherapy had higher levels of killer T cells and a higher number of mutations that may have been recognized by those killer T cells as foreign or non-self.”

Abbosh and team performed whole exome sequencing and gene expression analyses on tumors from patients in two independent cohorts who underwent cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy to arrive at these conclusions.

The team is now working on subsequent studies to find more definitive evidence that chemotherapy causes the immune system to recognize and destroy bladder cancers. These findings may eventually make it possible to develop combined immunotherapy/chemotherapy treatment regimens.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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