Immunoregulartory Protein (Cancer)

January 12, 2016

Providence Cancer Center researchers might have identified how to determine if a patient with advanced melanoma will likely respond to a certain immunotherapy treatment.

In findings published Dec. 1 in the journal Cancer Research, Providence researchers found that the presence of certain immunoregulatory proteins in the serum of a patient at the time of initial therapy may help predict whether a patient will benefit from treatment with ipilimumab.

The paper is entitled, “Serum Immunoregulatory Proteins as Predictors of Overall Survival of Metastatic Melanoma Patients Treated with Ipilimumab.”

“Thanks to groundbreaking success of immunotherapy, options in cancer treatment are rapidly expanding,” said lead researcher Yoshinobu Koguchi, M.D., Ph.D., Earle A Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center. “However, critical information that aids in the selection of immunotherapy would be beneficial to patient care.”

It is known that ipilimumab improves the overall survival in patients with metastatic melanoma. However, it is not effective for everyone. Researchers hypothesized that because ipilimumab targets T lymphocytes and not the tumor itself, the effectiveness of the immunotherapy may be sensitive to immunomodulatory proteins present in the patient at the time of treatment.

To determine which proteins might be potential predictors of clinical benefit, researchers analyzed serum from patients in a pivotal phase III clinical trial of ipilimumab before treatment began. The scientists looked for a variety of proteins in the serum and correlated their levels with the overall survival of the patients.

"The analyses suggest that the serum biomarkers CXCL11 and sMICA are potential predictors of overall survival in patients treated with ipilimumab. The identification of predictive biomarkers would be important in assisting patients and physicians for selecting the most suitable treatment.

“We have shown proof of concept that such predictive biomarkers for immunotherapy can be discovered and this study has paved the way for further investigation,” Koguchi said.

The study was conducted by a multidisciplinary team consisting of immunologists, oncologists, and a biostatistician with five being from Providence Cancer Center including Koguchi.

The research was supported by funding from Providence Portland Medical Center and a research grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Researchers at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Cancer Center have focused on immunotherapy for more than two decades, considering it the fourth modality for treating patients with cancer in addition to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Providence is considered an international leader in immunotherapy research. Immunotherapy takes advantage of a patient’s own immune system, activating it in a way that allows it to attack and eradicate the cancer while minimizing damage to normal tissue.