In recent years, immunotherapy has been the field bringing the most exciting improvements when it comes to dealing with cancer. The concept is simple: use the body’s own natural defenses to fight cancer. Currently, there are a number of ways to achieve this, each one with their unique approach.
One of the most popular courses involves checkpoint inhibitors, artificially enhanced antibodies that can detect and destroy tumorous cells. Drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo take this path, being highly successful in targeting melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and head and neck cancer. Unfortunately, they still have limitations when it comes to other types of malignancy.
This is where bone marrow transplants come in to give a helping hand. The most powerful anti-tumor mechanism known is the graft-versus-tumor (GvT) effect, which occurs after a patient receives a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a healthy, tissue-matched donor. It can kill many types of solid tumors and blood cancers and is the only immune mechanism capable of eradicating chemotherapy-resistant metastatic tumors.
Researchers have managed to recreate this process and named it Mirror Effect. As Dr. Har-Noy describes it: “We designed a bioengineered allogeneic graft, called AlloStim, which elicited a non-toxic host-versus-graft (HvG) rejection (the ‘mirror’ of GvHD) linked to a host-versus-tumor (HvT) effect (the ‘mirror’ of the GvT effect). The elicited HvT effect is equally as powerful as the GvT effect of bone marrow transplants”.
One reason making this product remarkable is the fact that is was directly developed from a human model, rather than through animal testing.
With AlloStim, immune cells are purified from the donor blood and converted into a new sort of antibody. It also does not require a matched tissue donor or chemotherapy conditioning prior to treatment.
A number of clinical trials are running at the moment for several types of cancer, including head and neck, advanced hepatocellular carcinoma and metastatic colorectal cancer.
“By providing an effective, affordable immunotherapy treatment option to many patients, AlloStim could be the first immunotherapy widely available to patients, even in economically disadvantaged countries”.