...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute has shown that viruses that have been hiding in human DNA for millions of years may help fight cancer.
Focusing on lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, the team sought to understand why some patients respond better to immunotherapy than others.
Viral Genes Join the Fight against Cancer
The researchers discovered that viral genes passed down by our ancestors can be “woken up” when a person has cancer and join the fight against the tumor.
This suggests that endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), a type of viral DNA that makes up about 5% of human DNA and normally lies dormant, can be triggered by cancer cells to launch an immune response.
B Cells and Antibodies in Immunotherapy
The study also found that patients with antibody-producing B cells around their tumor tend to respond better to immunotherapy. These B cells boost the immune response to cancer by producing antibodies that bind to the tumor, similar to how B cells produce anti-viral antibodies after a flu or COVID infection.
Hope for a Cancer Treatment Vaccine
The discovery of these ancient viral genes’ potential to help fight cancer offers hope for the development of a cancer treatment vaccine.
By triggering an immune response against tumor cells, the fragments of viruses could be used to develop a vaccine that teaches the body to fight cancer on its own.
The study’s findings have significant implications for cancer research and offer a new approach to understanding the body’s immune response to cancer.
As scientists continue to explore the potential of immunotherapy and other treatments, this study offers an exciting avenue for the development of more effective cancer treatments.