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Exploring new horizons in osteosarcoma treatment

Osteosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer in young people. It has long posed challenges to medical professionals trying to find an effective treatment. Despite advances in cancer treatment, the survival rate for osteosarcoma patients, particularly those with metastatic disease, hasn’t seen substantial improvement in recent decades. But there is hope. A new wave of optimism is sweeping through the field, thanks to emerging research on combination treatments.

Traditionally, osteosarcoma treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy. But these methods have limitations, especially when cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. The need for innovative approaches has never been more pressing. One area that’s showing great potential is immunotherapy. Treatments that leverage the body’s immune system to fight cancer. The immune system is our body’s defence mechanism. Under the right conditions it can target and destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately osteosarcoma has developed ways to evade and suppress the immune response.


The Power of Combination Therapies

Enter combination therapies. A strategy that combines different types of treatment to outsmart the cancer cells! This approach aims to block the cancer’s escape routes and boost the immune system’s ability to fight the disease.

One of the most exciting areas of research is the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors. These drugs unmask cancer cells, making them visible to the immune system. They’ve shown promise in treating various cancers, but their success in osteosarcoma has been limited. When combined with other therapies their effectiveness may be enhanced and this is an exciting avenue of current research.


The Role of Vaccines

Osteosarcoma associated vaccines are another innovative approach. These vaccines are designed to provoke the body’s immune response against cancer cells. While still in the experimental phase the results are encouraging. Cytokines, small proteins released by cells, play a critical role in cell signalling in the immune system. Using cytokines in combination with other treatments could boost the immune response against osteosarcoma.


Adoptive Cell Therapy

Adoptive cell therapy is another new area being explored for the treatment of osteosarcoma. This treatment involves modifying patient’s immune cells to make them more effective at targeting cancer cells. These enhanced cells are then reintroduced into the patient’s body.


Challenges and Future Prospects

While combination therapies hold great promise, there are challenges. One of the biggest is ensuring these treatments are safe and effective for younger patients who are most affected by osteosarcoma. The future of osteosarcoma treatment is looking bright, with combination therapies offering new hope. Further research is still needed to understand the best way to combine these treatments for maximum effectiveness. The recent advancements in combining therapies to treat osteosarcoma offer a beacon of hope to the osteosarcoma community. They represent a significant stride towards turning osteosarcoma into a more manageable, and perhaps one day, curable disease.


This blog post was written based on the following paper:

Tian, H., Cao, J., Li, B. et al. Managing the immune microenvironment of osteosarcoma: the outlook for osteosarcoma treatment. Bone Research 11, 11 (2023). Click here to find out more about this paper.