Immunotherapy and DNA testing

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Immunotherapy is an anti-cancer treatment based on harnessing our own immune system to attack cancer cells.

What is Immunotherapy?

Interested in 
genetic profiling for cancer?

Immunotherapy (or immune-therapy) is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer.

The immune system keeps track of all of the cells and substances normally found in the human body, if there is a new substance that the immune system doesn’t recognize, this raises an alarm, causing the immune system to immediately attack it.

Immunotherapy is now becoming a front-line treatment for many tumour types and recently highlighted by the award of the Nobel Prize to Prof. A. Allison and Prof. Honjo who pioneered this new approach to treatment.

At this point, the question arises:

Why is there a need for therapy or genetic testing if the bodies own immune cells can kill cancer cells?

It is frequently observed that in patients with tumors that the immune system doesn’t recognise cancer cells as foreign, this because some cancer cells have methods of masking themselves as normal cells. However researchers have found ways to help the immune system recognize cancer cells and strengthen its response so that it will destroy them. These methods can be summarized in the word immunotherapy.

How does
Immunotherapy work?

The development of cancer is associated with the acquisition of DNA mutations which also results in the expression of mutated proteins on the surface of cancer cells called neoantigens. Neoantigens are recognised by the body as foreign leading to an attack on the cancer cells by the patient’s own immune cells.

However some cancers stop this attack by expressing a protein on their surface called PD-L1 which shields the cancer cells from the immune cells. Anti-PD-L1/PD-1 immunotherapy strips this PD-L1 shield away enabling the immune cells to attack the cancer cells.

Who can be eligible for immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy doesn’t work for everyone:
in some patients it appears to work incredibility well, completely destroying tumours even after they have begun to spread around the body, but for other patients the response can be less dramatic.

It is clear that there are limits on the immune system’s ability to fight cancer on its own, because many people with healthy immune systems still develop cancer because sometimes:

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The immune system doesn’t detect the cancer cells as foreign

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The immune system recognizes the cancer cells, but the immuno response might not be enough to destroy the cancer.

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Cancer cells emit substances that keep the immune system from finding and attacking them.

How do we help patients to uncover immunotherapy options?

Oncologica Lab can perform a series of DNA tests that help oncologists to evaluate the possible effectiveness of immunotherapy and identify those patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy.

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The Immunofocus PD-L1 test measures the levels of PD-L1 expressed on the surface of tumour cells.

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The Immunofocus TMB and Immunofocus MMR tests provide an assessment of DNA mutations and associated neoantigens.

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Patients who score positive in these three tests are strong candidates for immunotherapy.

Immunofocus testing platforms by Oncologica enable patients to be identified who may benefit from this type
of treatment.

The immunofocus test can be done in combination with our most comprehensive Oncofocus test suite that sequences 505 genes and also allows you to assess treatment compatibility with over 780 targeted therapies.

Oncologica® is a leading precision oncology certified laboratory based in the prestigious Chesterford Research Park, Cambridge, UK.

Since 2015 we have been helping oncologists and patients every day to get the maximum benefit from new advanced genetic profiling techniques for the treatment of cancer.

A great team of geneticists, pathologists and oncologists to
help patients and treating clinicians find a tailor-made cancer therapy through molecular genetics.

Dr Marco Loddo
CO-FOUNDER AND SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR

BSc PhD
Prof. Gareth H Williams
CO-FOUNDER AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR

BSc, MBChB, PhD, FRCPath, FLSW
Keeda-Marie Hardisty
LEAD CLINICAL SCIENTIST

BSc

Dr Sergio Del Bianco
CLINICAL TEAM – SECOND OPINION

Oncologist

Prof. Giovanni Palazzoni
CLINICAL TEAM – SECOND OPINION

Radiation therapist oncologist

Prof. Umberto Tirelli
CLINICAL TEAM

Oncologist

Dr. Carla Spiga
CLINICAL TEAM – SECOND OPINION

Oncologist

Dr.ssa Eleonora Sanna
CLINICAL TEAM – SECOND OPINION

Oncologist

Dr Alberto Ravaioli
SPECIALIST GENERAL ONCOLOGY

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    Note to patients: All contents on this page are for informational purposes. Decisions regarding medical treatments and diagnoses must always be made in consultation with your treating clinician.

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