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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

Direct Evidence on the Immune-Mediated Spontaneous Regression of Human Cancer: An Incentive for Pharmaceutical Companies to Develop a Novel Anti-Cancer Vaccine

Author(s): F. Saleh, I. Klepacek, G. Ibrahim, H. Dashti, S. Asfar, A. Behbehani, H. Al-Sayer and A. Dashti

Volume 11, Issue 27, 2005

Page: [3531 - 3543] Pages: 13

DOI: 10.2174/138161205774414556

Price: $65


To develop an effective pharmaceutical treatment for a disease, we need to fully understand the biological behavior of that disease, especially when dealing with cancer. The current available treatment for cancer may help in lessening the burden of the disease or, on certain occasions, in increasing the survival of the patient. However, a total eradication of cancer remains the researchers hope. Some of the discoveries in the field of medicine relied on observations of natural events. Among these events is the spontaneous regression of cancer. It has been argued that such regression could be immunologically-mediated, but no direct evidence has been shown to support such an argument. We, hereby, provide compelling evidence that spontaneous cancer regression in humans is immunologically-mediated, hoping that the results from this study would stimulate the pharmaceutical industry to focus more on cancer vaccine immunotherapy. Our results showed that patients with ≥3 primary melanomas (very rare group among cancer patients) develop significant histopathological spontaneous regression of further melanomas that they could acquire during their life (P = 0.0080) as compared to patients with single primary melanoma where the phenomenon of spontaneous regression is absent or minimal. It seems that such regression resulted from the repeated exposure to the tumor which mimics a selfimmunization process. Analysis of the regressing tumors revealed heavy infiltration by T lymphocytes as compared to non-regressing tumors (P < 0.0001), the predominant of which were T cytotoxic rather than T helper. Mature dendritic cells were also found in significant number (P < 0.0001) in the regressing tumors as compared to the non regressing ones, which demonstrate an active involvement of the different arms of the immune system in the multiple primary melanoma patients in the process of tumor regression. Also, MHC expression was significantly higher in the regressing versus the non-regressing tumors (P < 0.0001), which reflects a proper tumor antigen expression. Associated with tumor regression was also loss of the melanoma common tumor antigen Melan A/ MART-1 in the multiple primary melanoma patients as compared to the single primary ones (P = 0.0041). Furthermore, loss of Melan A/ MART-1 in the regressing tumors significantly correlated with the presence of Melan A/ MART-1-specific CTLs in the peripheral blood of these patients (P = 0.03), which adds to the evidence that the phenomenon of regression seen in these patients was immunologicallymediated and tumor-specific. Such correlation was also seen in another rare group of melanoma patients, namely those with occult primary melanoma. The lesson that we could learn from nature in this study is that inducing cancer regression using the different arms of the immune system is possible. Also, developing a novel cancer vaccine is not out of reach.

Keywords: immune system, regression process, melan-a/mart- ctls, primary melanomas, vaccination, pulmonary nodules

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