Combination Treatment May Improve Efficacy of Blood Cancer Treatment

BET-inhibitors and immune-based treatments may improve outcomes in patients with blood cancer.

The combination of BET-inhibitors and immune-based treatments could provide more potent treatments for blood cancers, according to a study published in Cell Reports.

BET-inhibitors are a relatively new class of epigenetic drugs designed to switch off cancer-causing genes expressed within tumor cells.

Although international clinical trials examining the use of BET-inhibitors for the treatment of blood cancers are currently underway, research has focused on the direct effects of the drugs in inducing cancer cell apoptosis, and understanding how resistance develops.

In the current study, investigators demonstrated the potential of combining epigenetic and immune-based treatments.

As part of the research, investigators conducted experiments that showed immune-competent mice with lymphoma had a far greater response to BET-inhibitors than immune-deficient mice.

In addition to the primary function of BET inhibitors, the investigators found that they switched off the protein PD-L1, which is used by tumor cells to evade the immune system.

Blockbuster drugs Keytruda and Opdivo, which are designed to target the PD-L1 pathway, have demonstrated the power of an activated immune system in eliminating tumor cells.

The investigators built upon this knowledge to confirm that combining BET-inhibitors with other immune therapies are more successful in lymphoma compared with either therapy alone, according to the study.

Currently, investigators are conducting a trial of combination dinaciclib with Keytruda in relapsed lymphoma, myeloma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The results of the trial are likely to lead to additional trials examining the combination therapy.