Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna’s department of dermatology have discovered that particular subtypes of B-lymphocytes can regulate the recruitment and activation of T-lymphocytes in melanoma.
The B-cell subtype is able to support immune responses against melanoma cells, thereby significantly increasing the success of immunotherapies.
Details of the research were published online ahead of print in the journal Nature Communications (Sept. 13, 2019).
“Our results show that the presence of these B-cell subtypes in the tumour tissue even before treatment can predict an effective response and improved survival of melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy,” said Dr. Johannes Griss, the study’s lead author, in a press release.
Prior to this study, the development of new immunotherapy techniques has focused on using the body’s own antibodies to fight cancer. T-lymphocytes play a significant role because they are able to detect, and destroy, cancer cells. As a result, scientific research has mainly focused on the activation of T-lymphocytes in immunotherapy. Despite advances in this field, the current therapies are only permanently effective in less than 50% of patients.
In the absence of B-lymphocytes, modern immunotherapies are less effective, said Dr. Stephan Wagner.
“We are now able to use this data to identify a group of patients that may especially benefit from immunotherapies. Our results also provide the basis for developing immunotherapeutic approaches that not only conserve these particular B-cell subtypes, but can even activate them,” Dr. Wagner added.
The study’s authors believe this research could open the door for the development of more effective immunotherapies in the future.