A new immunotherapy, AFM24, has reignited hopes for millions of cancer patients across the world. In a trial conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London revealed that AFM24 was able to target the protein without redeveloping the cells of the patient. According to trial results, out of the 24 patients, eight saw their cancers stop growing. The trial involved 24 patients with tumours containing a key protein in cancer growth known as Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EFGR).
According to ICR, researchers found the new drug was effective among a third of the patients who underwent the trial and had a range of advanced cancers including bowel and lung cancers.
The ICR also revealed that the immunotherapy, known as AFM24, redirects the body’s own natural killer cells and engages them to kill tumour cells, without any complex process to re-create a patient’s own cells, which occurs in CAR-T cell therapy. The researchers found that the new treatment has the potential to be safer and less complex than cell therapies like CAR-T. The scientists are hopeful that the therapy might also work against a wider range of cancer types.
Meanwhile, the early findings of the trial are being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2022.
Interestingly, two patients with bowel cancer and lung cancer after receiving the immunotherapy witnessed that their cancer shrink or stop growing for more than three months.
The researchers at the ICR revealed that the revolutionary drug, AFM24, was administered intravenously, and it was well tolerated by patients.
The cancer institute informed that the treatment works by activating natural killer cells, immune cells that release toxic molecules to kill tumour cells, and direct them to cancer cells expressing EGFR which ultimately increases their ability to selectively kill cancer cells.
Meanwhile, the next phase of this study which will further examine the effectiveness of this new drug is now underway.
It is noteworthy that more studies have also been initiated to evaluate AFM24 in combination with other immunotherapies such as Atezolizumab to target other EGFR-positive tumours.
“This treatment is still highly experimental and our trial is at an early stage, but we are excited by its potential. It does not have to be personalised for each patient like CAR-T cell therapy, so it could potentially be cheaper and faster to use, and might work against a wider range of cancers,” the trial’s UK lead Dr Juanita Lopez, Clinical Researcher at the ICR, London, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement.
Interestingly, according to one of the recipients of AFM24 this treatment has one of the least side-effects.