Precision Medicine is Changing Immunotherapy
Immunotherapies could revolutionize cancer treatment and even cure it in its later stages thanks to personalized medicine, a growing field in Mexico and abroad. Recently, researchers from Lund University used immunotherapies with CAR T-cells and antibodies to identify and target cancer cell surface proteins, known as cell surface tumor antigens.
“The great challenge is that the structure of cell surface tumor antigens differs between patients and between primary tumors and metastases. There is a great need both for new strategies and for high precision identification of accessible, treatable cell surface tumor antigens at a personalized level,” said Mattias Belting, Clinical Oncology Professor, Lund University.
Belting’s team developed a method called “Tumor Surfaceome Mapping” or TS-MAP, which performs a direct analysis of accessible cell surface tumor antigens in the tumor tissue of cancer patients. Through this, researchers found that the cells change their surface landscape when removed from their natural three-dimensional environment, disproving the two-dimensional models currently used to produce antibodies targeting tumor cells. The study points to the need for personalized medicine based on the patient’s variation of tumor antigens to fight cancer.
“Precision medicine in immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer is promising, but also very challenging... Currently, we talk about each individual patient needing to be matched to a drug. Perhaps it is the other way around, that we must design a specific drug to match the individual patient, however impossible that may sound,” said Belting.
Precision or personalized medicine has been increasingly adopted in Mexico during the past three to four years but there is still a long way before these emerging technologies arrive in the country. Health experts discussed this issue during Mexico Health Summit 2022, emphasizing the pressing need for the proper regulations to facilitate the adoption of precision medicine.
Mexico is one of the Top 5 Latin American countries with the best conditions for the integration and promotion of this type of medicine, according to the Latin American Personalized Medicine Index. But to make this opportunity a reality, the industry and the legislative branch of government will have to work together to reach a satisfactory regulatory policy through which these innovations can be monitored and their full potential achieved.