The researchers believe that the new treatment could be the key to improving survival in people with glioblastoma. About 15% of primary brain tumors are glioblastomas. Glioblastomas are particularly aggressive and fast growing because a large number of their cells are replicating and dividing at any given time.
The new study is also the first to describe an immunotherapy against brain tumors that can stimulate immune systems both throughout the body and local to the tumor in mice.
Prof. Ljubimova explains that these tumors use immune cells, such as special macrophages and T regulatory cells, as shields against anticancer cells. So, she and her colleagues decided to pursue a type of immunotherapy against brain tumors that uses checkpoint inhibitors to switch off the macrophages and T regulatory cells and thereby activate the cancer-killing cells.
They developed a nano-immunotherapy that can carry checkpoint inhibitors across the blood-brain barrier. The transporter is a small protein, or peptide, that attaches to the drug by means of a biodegradable polymer. Without the protection of their shielding cells, the tumor cells are vulnerable to attack by lymphocytes and microglial cells that can eliminate cancer cells.
The new immunotherapy has to undergo further tests before it is ready for human trials.

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