Sumary of How immunotherapy changes tumors:
- Johns Hopkins University engineers are the first to use a non-invasive optical probe to understand the complex changes in tumors after immunotherapy, a treatment that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.
- Their method combines detailed mapping of the biochemical composition of tumors with machine learning.
- “Immunotherapy really works like magic and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed,” said Ishan Barman, a Johns Hopkins associate professor in mechanical engineering and a co-author of the study, which was conducted in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Arkansas and published in Cancer Research.
- ” Using a technique called Raman spectroscopy, which uses light to determine the molecular composition of materials, the team probed colon cancer tumors in mice treated with the two types of immune checkpoint inhibitors used in immunotherapy, as well as a control group of untreated mice.
- “This is the first study that shows the ability of this optical technique to identify early response or resistance to immunotherapy,” said Santosh Paidi, one of the lead authors who worked on the research as a mechanical engineering PhD student at Johns Hopkins.
- ” The method is also well-suited for exploring the compositional changes of the tumor microenvironment, rather than the cancer cells only.
- The microenvironment contains a complex combination of the tumor stroma, blood vessels, infiltrating inflammatory cells, and a variety of associated tissue cells,” said Barman.
- “Our idea is to take this approach and systematize it so it can be used by doctors to determine whether immunotherapy will be beneficial for the patient.