Icahn School of Medicine researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital (pictured, 2014) reported Wednesday they have discovered an ingredient in allergy medicine can boost immune systems and reduce lung cancer tumors. They are encouraged by initial results but said more study and bigger clinical trials are needed to see if use of allergy medicine can be added to effective lung cancer treatments. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Icahn School of Medicine researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital reported Wednesday they have discovered an ingredient in allergy medicine can boost immune systems and reduce lung cancer tumors.
They found that when blocked, an allergy pathway releases anti-tumor immunity against non-small cell lung cancer.
The antibody dupilumab is used for allergy treatment. It's an IL-4 receptor-blocking antibody.
In an early study it boosted immune systems, reducing tumors in one out of six patients when used in conjunction with immunotherapy.
One patient with growing lung cancer improved after just three doses of the allergy medication and still had the cancer under control 17 months later.
"Immunotherapy using checkpoint blockade has revolutionized treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer, but currently only about a third of patients respond to it alone, and in most patients, the benefit is temporary," senior study author Dr. Miriam Merad said in a statement.
Dr. Nelson LaMarche, a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Merad's lab, added, "Using single cell technologies, we discovered that the immune cells infiltrating lung cancers, as well as other cancers we studied, exhibited characteristics of a 'type 2' immune response, which is commonly associated with allergic conditions like eczema and asthma."
The researchers said further study and larger clinical trials are needed, but they are encouraged by these initial results.
The Cancer Research Institute praised the work of what they called the visionary team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
"We champion this discovery and take pride in being part of its journey from lab to clinic, reinforcing our commitment to transforming lives," CRI's Dr. Jill O'Donnell-Tormey said in a statement.
The researchers said their early results in single cell technologies led them to explore whether they could re-purpose allergy medication to 'rescue' or enhance tumor response to a treatment procedure called checkpoint blockade.
It is a type of immunotherapy that can unleash the cancer-killing killing activity of T-cells.
They discovered that an IL-4, or interleukin-4 antibody, enhanced lung cancer response to checkpoint blockade in mice as well as in six lung cancer patients with treatment-resistant disease.