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New Study Indicates 'Helper' Cells May Kill Cancerous Tumors

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --  USA News Group – A new study out suggests that T cells are a subset of lymphocytes (white blood cells), which play a key role in the body's immune response. This new information could prove to be a key in unlocking "helper" cells that could aid in cancer therapy.

Companies across the biotech space continue to seek new and novel therapies to screen for and treat a wide variety of blood borne cancers. New information in the space is key to providing links between drug therapies and strategies. Companies in this space are expecting to see significant increases in revenue and support for new technologies supported by leaders in the sector including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALNY), Oncolytics Biotech Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCY) (TSX: ONC), and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY).

Another company looking to make a significant contribution is Aethlon Medical, Inc. (NASDAQ: AEMD), an under-the-radar medical technology company that focuses on addressing unmet needs in health and biodefense worldwide. Aethlon Medical Inc. (AEMD) is developing Aethlon Hemopurifier, a clinical-stage immunotherapeutic device that removes exosomes and life-threatening viruses from the human circulatory system. It is also developing TauSome, an exosomal biomarker candidate to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living individuals. Aethlon has not only secured Hemopurifier's® FDA designation for treating life-threatening viruses, but also for the treatment of individuals with advanced or metastatic cancer.

Cells Are a Powerful Subset of Immune Cells

In what is widely considered a major breakthrough, researchers have identified how a subset of immune cells are activated to kill cancerous cells. This could hold the key to new, powerful therapies against cancer. The new study was built on previous research which found that following immunotherapy, some CD4+ T cells, already believed to be 'helper' and 'regulator' immune cells, actually become cytotoxic directly engaging with and killing cancer cells. The literature, which is published in the journal Immunity, the research team from University College London, looked at the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning actions of the cells as part of an experimental study of immunotherapy that was carried out in mice.

The data shows that the researchers found that a 'growth factor' for T cells known as IL-2, and the 'transcription factor' Blimp-1 are responsible for initiating potent killer activity in CD4+ T cells within cancerous tumors.

T cells can be modified and then used to attack and kill cancer. The cells move around freely in our bodies seeking infected cells and then killing them. The challenge is that T cells do not readily recognize most cancers, because cancers develop from our own tissues (or self) and appear normal to most T cells. The main challenge with T cell immunotherapy approaches is to find ways to direct T cells to attack cancer cells.

Connecting Technologies and Breakthroughs

Biotech firms are finding new and innovative ways to treat cancer and other diseases through breakthroughs like those on T cell targeting. Others are combining different therapies and using new devices to enhance treatments. Unveiled in 2014, the Aethlon Medical Inc. through its Hemopurifier® has developed one of the most fascinating, patent-protected therapeutic devices in the world. Not currently addressed by oncology, Aethlon's Hemopurifier® therapy works in clearing out the cancer-promoting exosomes, and is synergistic with chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted agents.

Since receiving its FDA "Breakthrough Device" designation, Hemopurifier® therapy has also earned the spotlight of its role of fighting cancer in cases of chemotherapy resistance, promotion of metastasis, and immune suppression. The device named as one of Time Magazine's Top 25 Inventions and 11 Remarkable Health Advances in 2014, but it was also recognized by the National Cancer Institute and awarded a grant in 2018.

Aethlon recently closed its latest $5 Million Public Offering in Mid-December providing the company a strong cashed position to advance its application of the Hemopurifier®, especially in new fields. It is also developing TauSome, an exosomal biomarker candidate to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living individuals.

Biotech Benefiting Greatly from New Approaches

Breakthroughs like the T cell study and Aethlon's application of its hemopurifying device are creating new markets and expanding the effectiveness of bioscience. Researchers are quick to point out that studies like these help scientists understand better the intricacies of our immune system and how it can be utilized to kill cancer cells and used in therapies.

Work is reportedly underway to develop new personalized cell therapies where the activity of Blimp-1 can be maxed up to drive potent tumor control. Numerous biotech companies are looking to use the new technologies capitalize on the growth in this space. Significant companies capable of playing a major role include:

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. The company's pipeline of investigational RNAi therapeutics focus on genetic medicines, cardio-metabolic diseases, hepatic infectious diseases, and central nervous system/ocular diseases. Alnylam has announced that the ILLUMINATE-A Phase 3 study of lumasiran, an investigational RNAi therapeutic targeting glycolate oxidase (GO) in development for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1), has met its primary efficacy endpoint and all tested secondary endpoints.

Oncolytics Biotech Inc. is a development stage biotech company focused on an immuno-oncology virus (called pelareorep) currently being studied for potential combination with lead treatments Opdivo® from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Roche's Tecentriq, Pfizer's & Merck KGaA's Bavencio, Oncolytics has recently highlighted the four ongoing studies with Pfizer, Merck KGaA, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche. The studies are in support of checkpoint inhibitors, targeting metastatic breast cancer, early stage breast cancer, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer. 

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company develops, licenses, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells biopharmaceutical products worldwide. It offers drugs in oncology, immunoscience, cardiovascular, and fibrotic diseases. The company recently disclosed it has received European Commission Approval for Revlimid® (lenalidomide) in Combination with Rituximab for the Treatment of Adult Patients with Previously Treated Follicular Lymphoma. Revlimid plus rituximab is the first chemotherapy-free combination regimen approved in Europe for patients with follicular lymphoma who have relapsed or did not respond to previous treatment.

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