Biomarkers for improved treatment of lung cancer - healing practice

Predict the side effects of cancer treatment

Recent research has found ways to dramatically improve the treatment of lung cancer. For this, people at risk of serious side effects are identified using a special marker, which makes it possible to personalize the treatment.

The new study, involving experts from Edith Cowan University, looked at biomarkers that can predict the risk of immune-mediated adverse events in people with non-small cell lung cancer. The results of the study have been published in the European Journal of Cancer.

How to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment?

The team looked at the so-called human leukocyte antigens (HLA) of a total of 179 people with non-small cell lung cancer. So they wanted to identify a way to reduce the side effects of treating this form of lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer is common

Non-small cell lung cancer is common, accounting for about 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses, the researchers said. Immunotherapy is an important treatment option for this form of cancer.

Serious side effects often occur

However, there is the problem that such treatment may also be associated with serious side effects. Experts report that at least 74% of all people treated experience side effects related to the immune system.

Up to 21% even show third or fourth degree toxicity. This is so serious that it can lead to lifelong complications. For example, they can affect the skin, the intestines, the liver or the so-called endocrine system, the team explains.

These side effects may eventually lead to the discontinuation of cancer treatment. However, it increases the risk that the cancer will progress further.

However, people who are affected by these side effects of immunotherapy generally have more positive results in terms of the progression of their cancer than those who do not have such side effects, explain the researchers.

Immunotherapy poisoning

“Immunotherapy activates the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. But they can also prompt immune cells to attack the body, leading to poisoning,” study author Professor Elin Gray said in a press release.

“Our research shows for the first time that certain genetic traits predispose cancer patients to develop side effects or toxicities from cancer therapy. This knowledge will enable doctors to improve patient care,” adds the doctor.

What are human leukocyte antigens?

There are human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in the body. These markers are found in most cells. These HLAs are used by the immune system to determine which cells belong in the body and which do not. In addition, HLAs are part of the body's alarm system, which is able to detect viruses, infections and even cancer.

By examining the HLA of 179 participants with non-small cell lung cancer, the team found a strong association between the genetic makeup of the HLAs and the risk of the affected person developing side effects from immunotherapy.

All people with non-small cell lung cancer will benefit from this new discovery. It does not matter whether or not those affected have a genetic predisposition to the adverse effects caused by immunotherapy, explains the author of the study, Dr. Afaf Abed.

More aggressive treatment possible without side effects

If, according to the doctor, it turns out that a certain person is not at risk of side effects, it is possible that the treatment will be intensified and the cancer will be fought more aggressively.

Monitor side effect toxicity

On the other hand, if there is a higher risk of side effects, treatment could be approached more slowly. The severity of toxicity should be monitored. This would allow intervention before those affected develop grade 3 or 4 toxicity.

In such a case, biomarkers that predict the risk of these immune-mediated adverse events, according to Dr. Evening help reduce the risks associated with these treatments.

This could represent a real breakthrough in the fight against lung cancer, a disease that kills around 1.8 million people worldwide each year. (as)

Author and source information

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Afaf Abed, Ngie Law, Leslie Calapre, Johnny Lo, Vikas Bhat et al. : Association of Human Leukocyte Antigen Genotype with the Development of Immune-Related Adverse Events in Patients With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treated with Single-Agent Immunotherapy; in: European Journal of Cancer (published Volume 172, P98-106, 2022-09-01), European Journal of CancerEdith Cowan University: genetic discovery to improve the treatment of lung cancer (published 07/14/2022), University Edith Cowan

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.