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Rare types of cancer: German Cancer Aid relies on new treatment options in immunotherapy

2024-02-22T19:41:52.580Z

Highlights: Every year around 500,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer. German Cancer Aid relies on new treatment options in immunotherapy. New active ingredients based on so-called low molecules, i.e. with a mass of less than 800 g/mol, are intended to offer new Treatment options. The first approved drug of this type of checkpoint inhibitor was ipimumab for the treatment of malignant skin cancer in 2011. Another checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab, has been available as a drug for advanced lung cancer since 2015.



As of: February 22, 2024, 8:30 p.m

By: Natalie Hull-Deichsel

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Thanks to research, doctors are increasingly developing targeted therapies.

This should make it possible to treat advanced cancers in particular better.

Every year around 500,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer.

This makes it all the more important to research new therapy options and develop them further, as Prof. Reinhard Büttner, Director of the Institute for General Pathology and Pathological Anatomy at the University Hospital of Cologne, explains at the German Cancer Congress 2024.

As Congress President, together with the

German Cancer Aid,

he would like to draw attention to the importance of researching new active ingredients, including for rare and difficult-to-treat cancers such as soft tissue sarcomas or pancreatic cancer.

The focus here is, among other things, on the further development of immunotherapy.

Fighting cancer: New active ingredients are being developed

New active ingredients based on so-called low molecules, i.e. with a mass of less than 800 g/mol, are intended to offer new treatment options, especially for advanced cancers.

© Peopleimages/Imago

Current research focuses on the development of substances that can be used in immunotherapy, as well as on so-called small-molecule active ingredients.

Due to their small size, the latter have the ability to penetrate directly into diseased cells and have their effect there.

Immunotherapies have only recently been approved for cancer therapy - including for the treatment of lung cancer, skin cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and head and neck tumors - while small molecule active ingredients are not new in themselves.

However, ongoing findings about the molecular control processes in tumor cells provide new, promising starting points for drugs, according to a press release from the German Cancer Congress.

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Taking this knowledge into account, research teams in projects funded by the

German Cancer Aid

develop active ingredients against tumors that, among other things, do not respond to conventional therapeutic agents due to resistance mechanisms.

At the same time, the targeted effect of the newly developed drugs should help reduce the side effects of cancer therapy.

Why cancer escapes the natural immune system

The innate immune system eliminates harmful substances in the body by fighting non-specific pathogens and protecting the body from most infections.

The adaptive or learned immune response, on the other hand, reacts specifically to certain structures of pathogens and cells, so-called antigens, with the help of T and B cells.

T cells are equipped with antigen receptors on their surface to recognize and eliminate antigen-bearing cells.

The adaptive immune system has a type of memory that allows it to recognize and respond to an antigen if it has previously come into contact with it.

In order for cancer cells to be recognized by the immune system, they must carry tumor-associated antigens (TAA) on their surface.

However, many tumor types have developed strategies to obscure their malignant properties, for example by not presenting antigens or by making them appear to be the body's own substances.

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Importance of immunotherapy in cancer treatment

A key starting point in immuno-oncology are the so-called checkpoints, which are located on the T cells and are normally intended to prevent an excessive immune reaction.

However, cancer cells can use this mechanism to hide themselves.

This is where medications or active ingredients with checkpoint inhibitors come into play: They remove the blockage caused by cancer and activate the immune system to identify and destroy tumor cells.

The first approved drug of this type was the checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab in 2011 for the treatment of malignant (black) skin cancer, according to the

German Cancer Society (DKG)

.

Another checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab, has been available as a drug for advanced lung cancer since 2015 - clinical studies show that the life expectancy of patients improves significantly as a result of the therapy.

This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication.

It in no way replaces a visit to the doctor.

Our editorial team is not allowed to answer individual questions about medical conditions.

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2024-02-22

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