Compounds that potentiate new solutions in oncologic treatment identified

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Researchers at the Center for Research in Health Technologies and Services (CINTESIS), in Porto, have identified new compounds capable of inhibiting the immune response control mechanisms and that potentiate the development of new solutions for oncologic treatment.

In an article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the researchers explain that they have identified, through computational techniques, new compounds capable of inhibiting immune checkpoints, “a kind of immune response brake”, reveals today, in a statement, the center of the University of Porto.

According to CINTESIS, the discovery is essential to produce “more and better” dendritic cells (cells responsible for identifying infection and developing the immune response) for anti-tumor immune therapy.

The paper was published as part of the DCMatters project, which has as its main goal the production of “new generation” dendritic cell-based vaccines that combine immune ‘checkpoint’ inhibitors with the ability to help the immune system recognize and “attack” cancer cells.

Quoted in the release, researcher Paula Videira highlights the “very important” role of dendritic cells at the immune level.

“They orchestrate the immune response, both by activating the immune system against tumor cells, but also by creating an immune tolerance, which is no longer beneficial in antitumor therapy,” he says, noting that this balance has to be “managed very finely” in the laboratory.

According to the expert, these immune ‘checkpoint’ inhibitors are “very promising in the treatment of various types of cancer, including skin, lung and bladder cancer.”

Funded with 2.1 million euros by the Portugal 2020 program, the project brings together specialists from the Portuguese Oncology Institute of Porto, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon, and the Portuguese company Stemmatters.

The project will explore a “new paradigm for fighting cancer,” as well as enhance the development of “a third generation of dendritic cells with a greater capacity to induce an antitumor response.”

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