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New targets for immunotherapy

Three separate studies have revealed potential new avenues for research into immunotherapy.

Two have highlighted molecules that may help cancer cells evade the immune system. 

While the other suggests that the effects of an experimental breast cancer drug could be boosted by immunotherapy.

In two studies researchers looked at one set of “brakes” – controlled by a checkpoint molecule called PD-L1 – which can prevent the immune system from launching an effective attack against cancer cells. 

They found that PD-L1 relies on two molecules called CMTM4 and CMTM6 to carry out its job in lab-grown cancer cells. 

These molecules made PD-L1 more stable, enhancing the ability of tumour cells to escape attack by certain immune cells. 

The third study looked at a targeted cancer drug that stops tumour cells growing. This drug was expected to stop tumours from getting any bigger, but lead researcher Dr Shom Goel said that some patients’ breast cancers also shrank following treatment in early clinical trials.

All three studies have been published in the journal Nature.

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