Another alternative approach being developed, is to use immunotherapy to prime a patient’s immune system to target the NEPC cells. Immunotherapy works by ensuring that any metastatic NEPC deposits are recognised and then destroyed by the body’s immune system.
Our Targeted Therapy Group at the University of Surrey are using their expertise in oncolytic (cancer- killing) viruses to develop a new virus specifically designed to treat prostate cancer. They are one of the few Groups in the UK conducting this type of research.
The aim is to get the oncolytic virus to infect the tumour cells and cause them to pop open and die in a special way, which then stimulates the patient’s immune system to recognise the cancer cell and destroy it.
The Group are working to combine the oncolytic virus with, so called, immune ‘checkpoint inhibitors’, which are already employed in the treatment of some skin and lung cancers. They work by taking the brake off the immune system thereby allowing the immune cells to travel to the site of infection, and destroy the tumour. The immune system will then remember these cancer cells, so should the tumour later metastasise, it will send Toxic T cells to kill the cancer cells.