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.