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A research about new immunotherapy against bone sarcomas

This is the result of the collaboration between University College of London and Rizzoli of Bologna

May 30th, 2024

The preclinical trial of a new treatment against osteosarcoma, made with the contribution of the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology of the IRCCS Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna, directed by Dr. Katia Scotlandi, has been successful.

This is a new type of immunotherapy developed by researchers at University College London, based on preclinical experimental models obtained at Rizzoli by Dr. Scotlandi and Dr. Maria Cristina Manara.

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in adolescents and young adults, but globally it is rare, with about 100-120 new cases each year in Italy. Osteosarcoma is a difficult tumor to treat. Despite advances, systemic treatment is still linked to the use of traditional chemotherapy. New treatments are needed for patients who do not react to this therapy. 

British researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Fisher found that using a small subset of immune cells, called gamma-T cellsdelta, could provide an efficient and economical solution helping to improve the therapy of patients suffering from osteosarcoma. The study, which has been published in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine, may have a more general value and potentially can also affect other types of bone cancer.

"Gamma-delta T cells are a specific type of immune cell and are characterized by strong innate anticancer properties - explains Dr. Katia ScotlandiThis cells can kill antibody-labeled targets and can be safely administered, without the risk of transplant disease against the host."

To produce cells, blood is taken from a healthy donor. Gamma-delta T cells are then engineered to release specific antibodies directed against cancer and immunostimulating chemicals called cytokines. Researchers tested the efficacy of these cells at the preclinical level and found that they act better than conventional immunotherapy to control the growth of cancer cells.
"This mode of immunotherapy, developed by Dr. Fisher,  can be an alternative to CAR-T cells, as it has proven more effective on solid tumors, less expensive and faster - concludes Scotlandi. Now, the next step it will be moving on to clinical trials to test the potential of treatment."

La Dr.ssa Maria Cristina Manara e la Dr.ssa Katia Scotlandi, rispettivamente ricercatrice e direttrice del Laboratorio di Oncologia sperimentale
Dr. Maria Cristina Manara and Dr. Katia Scotlandi, respectively researcher and director of the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology


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