September 30, 2022

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Israeli Researchers Discover New Treatment for Neck and Head Cancer

3 min read

In recent news, researchers from the State of Israel have been instrumental in discovering a new treatment combination for all those suffering from metastatic or advanced head and neck cancer (HNC). The new treatment has been designed to use immunotherapy, as well as a targeted drug, and follow a certain sequence inside a particular time frame. This helps in the blocking of a signaling pathway, which is the primary suppressor of the immune system. It is also the reason why the body cannot fight tumor cells. The research was carried out by an international team of experienced scientists, who were personally led by Manu Prasad, a PhD student. 

It took place in the laboratory that is used by Prof. Moshe Elkabets, working as the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Ben-Gurion University, located in Negev. The findings of their study were published in a reputable journal, namely Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. The study was co-authored by various researchers from across the globe, such as those from China, Israel, the US, Germany, and France. The primary focus of the research was to pay special attention to a specifically aggressive kind of HNC that is driven mainly when a signaling pathway is hyperactivated. As a result, it does not permit the immune systems to get rid of tumor cells. 

This was discovered in over 40% of HNC cases investigated. It was further revealed that HNC included cancer in the throat, larynx, which is the voice box of the body, lips, nose, salivary gland, and mouth. In addition, malignant tumors arising from the lining of the neck and head regions were also included in this category. The researchers added how the treatments being used currently are highly ineffective. Prof. Elkabets talked about how HNC grows in various sites inside a patient’s body and the treatments frequently used, such as radiation, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, are not effective. According to the expert, these treatments have a low response rate, which is no more than 20 percent. 

He further revealed that the average rate of survival for patients suffering from Stage III or IV cancer is only around five years. Moreover, in his words, 50 percent of cured patients also end up relapsing. A pre-clinical study of the research allowed the experts to discover a new combination of treatment, namely Trametinib and Anti-PD-1. The former is a cancer drug that aids in bringing white blood cells to where the tumor is located to kill it. Meanwhile, immunotherapy, Anti-PD-1, helps in blocking the signaling pathway. The researchers pointed out that the two together proved to be effective. 

If one was employed without the other, it did not provide significant results. The professor went on to elaborate on the process, saying that one is a drug that inhibits proliferation of cells and aid in the suppression of immunosuppressive microenvironment. He added that in the short time that the experts decided to take for the study, they were able to effectively prove that immunotherapy and the drug combined can give desirable results. 

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