(September 5, 2019) OCRA funded investigator Dmitriy Zamarin, MD, PhD contributed to a study that provides an intriguing hypothesis that mutation in genes like SMARCA4 may improve tumor recognition by the immune system.
The body’s immune system plays a major role in controlling tumor growth. Specialized immune cells called T-cells identify cancer cells as “foreign” by recognizing fragments of abnormal proteins generated from mutations occurring in cancer cell DNA. In general, cancers that have a larger number of mutations (changes in the DNA structure) have a higher likelihood of being recognized by the immune system.
Small cell carcinoma of the ovaries, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer. Dr. Zamarin and colleagues found that the SCCOHT tumors exhibit evidence of strong recognition by T-cells and have identified several patients that have received and responded to cancer immunotherapy drugs targeting a protein on the surface of T-cells that helps regulate the immune system’s response.
For more on this study, read the article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and the feature in the New York Times.