Cancer therapy should target specific sites on tumours

19 Oct 2023

Researchers from The University of Queensland and Akoya Biosciences have identified “poles” on cancer tumours of the head and neck, which could potentially be used to make treatments more effective.

Dr Arutha Kulasinghe, from UQ’s Frazer Institute said their work mapping the tumours would open the possibility of personalised treatments for cancer patients.

“We discovered that the cancer tumours were composed of two poles (akin to the north and south poles) with one being sensitive to immunotherapy and the other resistant,” Dr Kulasinghe said.

“This means we can identify specific areas of the tumour to target with therapies, as well as who might respond better to treatments.

“The more we learn about the biology of cancer, the more we are seeing that tumours are not homogenous – as well as why some therapies work and others don’t.

“Immunotherapy is cost-intensive and doesn’t work for everyone but, with more information about how an individual tumour might respond, clinicians can personalise a patient’s treatment plan and potentially achieve better outcomes.”

The study used ultra-high plex spatial proteomics to profile antibodies, targeting various biomarkers related to the tumour microenvironment.

Diagnostic biomarkers are observable indicators of the presence or progression of disease. Cancer diagnosis generally looks at two biomarkers but the researchers in this study analysed over 100 relating to the tumours’ immune activity, cellular stress and metabolism.

Dr Niyati Jhaveri, Head of Applications at Akoya Biosciences, said that the ultrahigh-plex spatial mapping technology enabled researchers to visualize and record biomarker expression at an unprecedented scale, revealing how cells interact and organise.

“With use of spatial biology, we can identify the multi-marker tissue signatures associated with response or resistance to therapy,” Dr Jhaveri said.

The research is published in GEN Biotechnology.

Media: UQ Faculty of Medicine,  , +61 436 368 746.