Aug 7, 2017

Success of immunotherapy may hinge on these cancer genes

Alex Ritter, Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz and Gillian Griffiths, National Institutes of Health

Scientists have identified the genes in cancer cells that are required in order for cancer immunotherapies to work. If clinical studies validate the findings, it could eventually help to tailor more effective treatments for patients based on the genetic profiles of cancer tumors.

What they did: Researchers used CRISPR gene editing to knock out the function of each of a human melanoma cell's 19,000 genes — and then tested whether the modified cancer cells could be destroyed by immune cells. They found about 100 genes in the cancer cells that, when their function was lost, made cells resistant to immunotherapies. Some were previously implicated but others were unknown to have had a role.

How it works: Cancer immunotherapies leverage the body's own immune T cells to destroy tumors. They're used to treat late-stage melanoma, bladder, neck and other cancers — with varying success. Why some tumors are susceptible and others are not is a question of intense interest for doctors and scientists who want to see immunotherapies work in more patients.

Next steps: "If we can truly understand mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy, we might be able to develop new therapeutics," NCI's Nicholas Restifo said in a press release. "In fact, in the future, this knowledge could speed the development of a new category of drugs that can circumvent these escape mechanisms of tumor cells and help patients experience complete responses."

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Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday, including the gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a Wednesday evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus updates: South Korea case count tops 2,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,850 people and infected over 83,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health

Syria's darkest chapter

Family room without a family, in Idlib. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The worst humanitarian crisis of Syria’s brutal civil war is colliding today with what could be the war’s most dangerous geopolitical showdown, after at least 29 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike.

The big picture: The fighting is taking place in Idlib in northwest Syria, where a ferocious Syrian and Russian offensive has displaced 1 million civilians and infuriated Turkey, which borders the region.

Go deeperArrow7 hours ago - World