Tumor-Directed Therapy and the Immune Response

Melanoma researchers at Mayo Clinic are evaluating the use of specific radiation techniques to overcome cancer-mediated immune evasion mechanisms.

The immune system in patients with disseminated melanoma (stage IV) is in a dysfunctional homeostasis of chronic inflammation, analogous to the way in which pregnancy leads to the suppression of immune effector cells and the polarization of the Th1/Th2 axis toward Th2.

In addition, the constant turnover of growing cancer cells may provide the immune system with a steady, low-concentration exposure to cancer antigens, producing immune tolerance in a manner similar to how allergy shots can be used to train the immune system to increase tolerance to certain allergens.

One possible way to overcome immune evasion in melanoma may be through the use of stereotactic body radiotherapy. Lead investigator Sean S. Park, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., is studying immune responses after stereotactic body radiotherapy in melanoma. Stereotactic body radiotherapy is a unique radiotherapy strategy that has been demonstrated to elicit a tumor-directed immune response in preclinical in vivo melanoma studies without the concomitant use of immunomodulating agents.

If you're interested in finding or participating in a radiation trial for melanoma, contact us or complete the online Cancer Studies Contact form.