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Digital pathology: The next big thing in medical technology

Pinky Singh

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Laboratories square measure essential for the scientific development of abstract and theoretical information, further because of the learning of scientific experiments and procedures. Nothing remains constant in science for terribly long. Within the science and technology sector, trends modification quickly, and laboratories square measure a key part of it. The scientific community and connected professions are experimenting with the idea of constructing a “lab of the future” in recent years.

Pathology is the motor that drives tending to grasp diseases. The long-run paradigm of pathology is digital. Digital technologies may push the sector into changing into more economical as well as ascendible. They may rework the work of pathologists into a lot of artistic and data-driven professions whereas permitting patients to receive diagnoses quicker and a lot of accurately.

Pathology is one of the foremost vital pillars of the complete tending system. Recently, there has been a paradigm shift in this field with the inclusion of digital pathology. Live digital magnifier is one such innovation. Here, the diagnostician has complete management of the complete recording method. Through this technology, live sharing of pictures became straightforward and high resolutions snapshots of single or multi-view screens created simply by a click on the mouse.

With the dawn of medical aid, the tending sector has undergone important changes. Having aforesaid that, transformations intending has conjointly brought changes in typical pathology rather than typical research, a medical specialist can perform a designation through interacting with pictures on laptop screens and activity measure. The digital penetrations in hospitals and completely different care management systems haven’t solely provided higher treatment for patient satisfaction, however have conjointly enabled doctors to scale their ability sets and reach various sets of audiences. Having said that, transformations intending has conjointly brought changes in typical pathology.

The fourth generation of virtual slide telepathology systems, alleged virtual research and whole-slide imaging (WSI), has allowed for the storage and quick dissemination of image information in pathology and alternative medical speciality areas.

The use of digital pathology has become a boon to any or all pathologists because it saves their time and energy in detecting and inspecting the slides and samples. Generally, transportation of those slides became a fragile issue because of their fragile nature. But today, it’s not due to the digital advancements created within the medical technology area. The digitised advancement conjointly comes with limitations that are required to be resolved within the future for a seamless operation. As pathology pictures need really high resolution and image quality conjointly files have monumental sizes.

The live pictures and diagnostic tools like real-time annotations like distances and space measurements are used with none got to save the image initially. Additionally to an in-depth single live image, there’s conjointly a break to point out multi-view of many live pictures, along with on one screen. This helps in presenting totally different stains, of similar tissue, in one summary. As a result of this direct comparison and live identification of complicated cases is simplified and also the time to identification is dramatically reduced.

Now, labs square measure adopting electronic notebooks and processes for restrictive compliance. The repository for the intellectual capital of arduous science is dynamical from the physical to the virtual, from safes and freezers to servers that store information. This migration has created it easier to share info and permits scientists to eliminate the employment of paper laboratory notebooks and their associated repository space for storing. a lot of significantly, scientists square measure quickly adopting mobile computing platforms that create documentation a seamless, multi-media method which will be completed anyplace and shared simply (even globally). Considering the new reliance on servers, it’s imperative to supply analysis facilities with reliable information centres and network property.

The modern laboratory can revolutionise however testing square measure conducted and biopharmaceutical medicine square measure developed. These labs can bring the most recent innovations, advanced ideas, and technologies to the advantage of clinicians and patients, with a broad specialisation in validation, data management, new assay development, contract analysis, new technology analysis, and R&D services within the field of genetic science and genetics. In R&D, it’ll habitually and all change hitherto inaccessible, tiny, and sophisticated experiments. Moreover, in terms of internal control, the usage of extended reality to assure school transfer, train, and supply technical help on new approaches can become present. Future labs square measure expected to integrate at-home speedy testing into patients’ medical regimens, permitting them to require more of an active role in their care. It’ll return as no surprise that patients are able to contribute vital info to their medical records exploitation digitally connected hand-held devices designed for home-usage. In the sight of the increasing range of endemics and troublesome testing, future labs can face stiff competition from advanced hospitals and freelance laboratories.

Laboratories square measure taking strides to higher facilitate information sharing and utilise technology once attainable, whereas it’s unlikely that laptop modelling can fully replace work on live subjects for pre-clinical testing, scientists square measure currently exploitation strategies to scale back the number of analysis subjects and choosing species that have less intensive environmental necessities. Bioinformatics can still grow as Associate in Nursing important, multidisciplinary analysis discipline, and development platforms in labs.

The writer is Chief Executive Officer, Myhealthadvisor.

The use of digital pathology has become a boon for all pathologists because it saves their time and energy in detecting and inspecting the slides and samples.

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Medically Speaking

RESEARCH: INTERMITTENT FASTING WORKS FOR WEIGHT LOSS, HEALTH CHANGES

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According to a new study review led by University of Illinois Chicago researchers, intermittent fasting can produce clinically significant weight loss as well as improve metabolic health in individuals with obesity.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Annual Review of Nutrition. “We noted that intermittent fasting is not better than regular dieting; both produce the same amount of weight loss and similar changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation,” said Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences and author of “Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.”

According to the analysis published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, all forms of fasting reviewed produced mild to moderate weight loss, 1 to 8 percent from baseline weight, which represents results that are similar to that of more traditional, calorie-restrictive diets.

Intermittent fasting regimens may also benefit health by decreasing blood pressure and insulin resistance, and in some cases, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also lowered. Other health benefits, such as improved appetite regulation and positive changes in the gut microbiome, have also been demonstrated.

The review looked at over 25 research studies involving three types of intermittent fasting: alternate-day fasting, which typically involves a feast day alternated with a fast day where 500 calories are consumed in one meal, 5:2 diet—a modified version of alternate-day fasting that involves five feast days and two fast days per week, time-restricted eating—which confines eating to a specified number of hours per day usually four to 10 hours with no calorie restrictions during the eating period.

Various studies of time-restricted eating show participants with obesity losing an average of 3 percent of their body weight, regardless of the time of the eating window.

Studies showed alternate day fasting resulted in weight loss of 3% to 8% of body weight over three to eight weeks, with results peaking at 12 weeks. Individuals on alternate day fasting typically do not overeat or binge on feast days, which results in mild to moderate weight loss, according to the review.

Studies for the 5:2 diet showed similar results to alternate-day fasting, which surprised the study’s reviewers. The subjects who participate in the 5:2 diet fast much less frequently than alternate-day fasting participants do, but the results of weight loss results are similar.

Weight loss in both the alternate day and 5:2 fasting are comparable to more traditional daily calorie-restrictive diets. And, both fasting diets showed individuals were able to maintain an average of 7% weight loss for a year.

“You’re fooling your body into eating a little bit less and that’s why people are losing weight,” Varady said.

Varady added the review set out to debunk some myths regarding intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting does not negatively affect metabolism, nor does it cause disordered eating, according to the studies reviewed.

“Fasting people are worried about feeling lethargic and not being able to concentrate. Even though you are not eating, it won’t affect your energy,” Varady said. “A lot of people experience a boost of energy on fasting days. Don’t worry, you won’t feel crappy. You may even feel better.”

The study review includes a summary of practical considerations for those who may want to try intermittent fasting. Among the considerations are:

Adjustment time—side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and constipation subside after one to two weeks of fasting. Increased water intake can help alleviate headaches caused by dehydration during this time.

Exercise—moderate to high-intensity endurance or resistance training during food abstention can be done, and some study participants reported having more energy on fast days. However, studies recommend those following alternate day fasting eat their fasting day meal after exercise.

Diet during fasting—there are no specific recommendations for food consumption during intermittent fasting, but eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help boost fibre intake and help relieve constipation that sometimes accompanies fasting.

Alcohol and caffeine—for those using an alternate day or 5:2 fasting plan, alcohol is not recommended on fast days as the limited calories should be used on healthy foods that provide nutrition.

There are several groups who should not intermittent fast, according to the studies. Those individuals include: those who are pregnant or lactating, children who are under 12, those with a history of disordered eating, those with a body mass index, or BMI, less than 18.5, shift workers—studies have shown they may struggle with fasting regimens because of shifting work schedules, and those who need to take the medication with food at regimented times.

“People love intermittent fasting because it’s easy. People need to find diets that they can stick to long term. It’s definitely effective for weight loss and it’s gained popularity because there are no special foods or apps necessary. You can also combine it with other diets, like Keto,” Varady said.

It’s definitely effective for weight loss and it has gained popularity because there are no special foods or apps necessary. You can also combine it with other diets, like Keto.

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Optimal blood pressure helps our brains age slower: Study

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People with elevated blood pressure that falls within the normal recommended range are at risk of accelerated brain ageing, according to new research from The Australian National University (ANU).

The research also found optimal blood pressure helps our brains stay at least six months younger than our actual age. The researchers are now calling for national health guidelines to be updated to reflect their important findings. The ANU study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, found participants with high blood pressure had older and therefore less healthy brains, increasing their risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

Participants with elevated blood pressure, but within the normal range, also had older-looking brains and were at risk of health problems. “This thinking that one’s brain becomes unhealthy because of high blood pressure later in life is not completely true,” Professor Nicolas Cherbuin, Head of the ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health, and Wellbeing, said.

“It starts earlier and it starts in people who have normal blood pressure.” Normal blood pressure is defined by pressure below 120/80, whereas an optimal and healthier blood pressure is closer to 110/70.

The new research comes after a large international study found the number of people over 30 with high blood pressure has doubled globally. Cardiologist and co-author of the study, Professor Walter Abhayaratna, said if we maintain optimal blood pressure our brains will remain younger and healthier as we age.

“It’s important we introduce lifestyle and diet changes early on in life to prevent our blood pressure from rising too much, rather than waiting for it to become a problem,” he said.

“Compared to a person with a high blood pressure of 135/85, someone with an optimal reading of 110/70 was found to have a brain age that appears more than six months younger by the time they reach middle age.”

The ANU team, in collaboration with colleagues in Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, examined more than 2,000 brain scans of 686 healthy individuals aged 44 to 76. The blood pressure of the participants was measured up to four times across a 12-year period. The brain scan and blood pressure data were used to determine a person’s brain age, which is a measure of brain health.

Lead author, Professor Cherbuin, said the findings highlight a particular concern for young people aged in their 20s and 30s because it takes time for the effects of increased blood pressure to impact the brain.

“By detecting the impact of increased blood pressure on the brain health of people in their 40s and older, we have to assume the effects of elevated blood pressure must build up over many years and could start in their 20s. This means that a young person’s brain is already vulnerable,” he said.

Professor Abhayaratna said the research findings show the need for everyone, including young people, to check their blood pressure regularly. “Australian adults should take the opportunity to check their blood pressure at least once a year when they see their GP, with an aim to ensure that their target blood pressure is closer to 110/70, particularly in younger and middle age groups,” he said.

“If your blood pressure levels are elevated, you should take the opportunity to speak with your GP about ways to reduce your blood pressure, including the modification of lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity,” he added.

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HOW TO TACKLE ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE IN INDIA

Dr Rahul Pandit

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A recent ICMR report has left healthcare providers, patients, and infection control experts worried about the rising Antimicrobial Resistance in India. The report says that more than 50 percent of ICU patients in recent times have been battling a type of Pneumonia caused by the bacteria ‘Klebsiella Pneumonia’, which will not respond to even powerful antibiotics like Carbapenem. Another antibiotic, Imipenem, will not affect a mutated form of E-coli in 3 out of 10 cases. This means mutations in microbes, be it bacteria, viruses, or fungi—are rendering medicines useless when the patients most need them.

Given the pandemic and the extensive use of antibiotics to fight Covid-19, antibiotic resistance has been accelerated. Many experts are of the opinion that our approach to treating Covid-19 in hospitals could be exacerbating the problem.

Having said that, India with its combination of a large population, rising incomes that facilitate the purchase of antibiotics, high burden of infectious diseases, and easy over-the-counter access to antibiotics —is an important locus for the generation of resistance genes. This was the state even before the pandemic hit us.

Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased mortality. We have already seen the rise of secondary infections and rare fungal infections such as mucor mycosis or black fungus, white fungus, and yellow fungus, taking a toll on Covid-19 patients during the second wave. Several studies attribute this to the injudicious use of steroids and other antibiotics medicines.

Moreover, even before the pandemic, India experienced over 56,000 newborn deaths each year due to Sepsis that is caused by organisms that are resistant to first-line antibiotics. Also, an estimated 170,000 deaths from Pneumonia in children under five, can be averted with timely access to effective antibiotics. While rising rates of resistant infections are a threat, many deaths are attributable to the lack of access to basic antibiotics.

Another important aspect is the use of antibiotics in the poultry and animal industry. This is much larger than what we imagine and obviously contributes to the growing menace of resistance.

So, how do we control and tackle growing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in India?

We need to balance excessive and inappropriate use, a key driver of antibiotic resistance while ensuring live-saving medicines are available to those who need them. There is also a need to improve vaccination coverage, access to clean water, adequate sanitation, and improved hygiene.

However, efforts must be made to bring about behavioral changes in terms of hygiene practices, self-medication efforts, and proper health education. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the transmission of AMR infections and the volume of antibiotics consumed due to both, appropriate treatment of bacterial infections and viral infections.

India has undertaken many activities like Mission Indradhanush — to address low vaccination coverage and strengthened micro-planning and additional mechanisms to improve monitoring & accountability. Yet, improvements in coverage are still needed. Moreover, antibiotic stewardship programs are very much needed, to help providers and clinicians make the best clinical decisions possible for an antibiotic prescription. Antibiotic stewardship is the systemic effort to ensure effective treatment of infections, and therefore combat AMR, by monitoring and advising on antibiotic prescription and use. Another aspect is the appropriate management of antibiotics throughout the supply chain—from manufacturing to consumption. Effluents from pharma manufacturing contain active antibiotics, resistant bacteria, and resistant genes; they contaminate rivers, streams, and wells, including waters that are used for drinking and bathing. This increases both the emergence of resistant bacteria in local populations and also its spread. In addition, even lower levels of contamination in wastewater can cause resistant bacteria. In the same light, researchers have noted that contamination in areas where there is an antibiotic manufacturing industry led to an increase in bacterium causing resistance to Carbapenems.

Another source of environmental contamination is contaminated hospital waste. Untreated hospital waste may contain antibiotics and resistant bacteria. Where disposal mechanisms are inadequate, such waste puts staff and patients at increased risk from AMR. Hence, a concerted approach that incorporates diverse stakeholders to tackle and control the spread of antibiotics is essential.

The author is Director of Critical Care at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai and a member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 Taskforce

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STUDY EXPLORES ADVERSE COMPLICATIONS FOR COVID POSITIVE PREGNANT WOMEN, THEIR NEWBORNS

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A new study, which finds an increased risk of poorer outcomes for the newborns and symptomatic women with Covid-19, adds further weight to the argument for pregnant women to be vaccinated for the virus.

The peer-reviewed findings were published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. Assessing 2,471 women in the third trimester of their pregnancy, close to their delivery, researchers found “significant differences” for symptomatic Covid-positive patients including higher rates of gestational diabetes, lower white blood cell counts, and heavier bleeding during delivery, whilst respiratory complications were witnessed in their babies. Thankfully in the group of patients—which included 172 covid positive women (56 of whom were symptomatic)—monitored at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Israel, only one person needed mechanical ventilation, and there were no maternal deaths.

They show, lead Dr Elior Eliasi stated that Covid-19 in the third trimester of pregnancy “has clinical implications, albeit at lower rates than expected once asymptomatic patients are taken into account.”

The analysis found that there was no significant increase in cesarean delivery in women, who were Covid-19 positive and the incidence of preterm deliveries was not significantly different among the three groups (healthy, covid positive asymptomatic, covid positive symptomatic). Most pregnancy and delivery outcomes were similar between Covid-positive and -negative parturients (a woman about to give birth; in labour).

Dr Eliasi said, “However, There were significant differences between the Covid-positive and healthy controls included higher rates of GDM (gestational diabetes), low lymphocyte counts (white blood cell count) which were significantly lower, postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding during birth), and neonatal respiratory complications.”

“Our findings support the importance of vaccinating all pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy,” he added.

The study looked at births at the hospital between 26 March and 30 September 2020. A total of 93 percent of women admitted to the labour ward during this period were negative for Covid-19. Of the Covid-positive patients, 67 percent were asymptomatic.

On average the increased risk of incidence of adverse outcomes was 13.8 percent higher for asymptomatic covid patients and 19.6 percent higher for those symptomatic.

“More data is now needed to better delineate the differences between pregnancy outcomes seen in certain populations, potentially related to different viral characteristics (subtypes, viral load), patient epigenetics, or other factors. Additionally, the effects of maternal infection on the fetus both in terms of symptomatic maternal illness and vertical viral transmission remain to be further investigated,” the authors stated.

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RESEARCHERS TAKE STEPS TOWARD MORE EFFECTIVE FITNESS TRACKERS, GREATER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

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As the popularity of fitness trackers has increased, so have the opportunities to use such devices to not only track fitness goals but also increase the motivation to meet those goals.

Researchers in the College of Engineering and the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State have teamed up to use control systems engineering tools to tailor motivational messages sent to individual device users. The results of their study were published in Health Psychology. “One of the really exciting advances of the last 15 years has been the advent of wearable and portable consumer technology that can be used to help promote physical activity,” said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology and human development and family studies, and co-principal investigator on the paper.

David added, “You can get real-time feedback from these devices and monitor your goals, and you can even push people messages, depending on what their goals are and what their behaviour is. We know that those messages work well for improving behaviour on average. But nobody is average, and we don’t know how to make sure each individual consistently gets the greatest benefit from a limited number of messages.”

Conroy said that researchers have tried several strategies, including messages that are specific to certain population segments; messages based on recent behaviour—for example, sending one of two different messages depending on if a user did or did not meet their goals the previous day; and customising the messages by putting in a person’s name or something they might like. So far, none of these approaches has proven to be consistently effective in improving the messages’ effects.

The new messaging approach developed by Conroy and Constantino Lagoa, co-principal investigator and professor of electrical engineering, applies tools used regularly in controlled systems engineering to behaviour science.

“Essentially, we’re using the same mathematical tools that people in control engineering usually use to model behaviours as differential equations,” Lagoa said. “We’re using those models to design feedback controllers that take into account the current state of the person and together with the model decide what is the best time to send the messages.”

Conroy emphasised that establishing the correct dosing—meaning the type of message and its timing, frequency and context—is a critical part of this approach.

“We’re really prioritising understanding the dosing so that we only send the right message at the right time and in the right context so people get the benefits that they’re looking for,” he said. “We don’t want to disrupt them without them getting the payoff that they’re looking for.”

The researchers refer to this individualised approach as precision behavioural medicine. “This is one of the first studies that were able to leverage data collected from each individual and zoom in on his or her personal response,” Lagoa said.

One of the main examples of how the researchers personalised the messages was by considering the weather in the area of the user, noting that certain messages were more effective for certain individuals on rainy days, hot days and so on.

The researchers acknowledged the potential concern people may have about trading privacy for personalization but said that the automation means that the data can be used and then discarded, as opposed to stored, and the location settings only need to be approximate to know the weather and customise the messaging appropriately. They also said, if their approach is commercialised, users would be able to adjust their settings to select how much information to share, and they plan on conducting more research before applying their approach to a larger population.

“We’ve established here is there’s a new tool to use with an established problem,” Conroy said. “Our next project will focus on establishing efficacy: Does this work better than sending messages at random or not sending messages at all? But once we establish efficacy, I would imagine that it’d be very attractive to device manufacturers to consider this kind of approach.”

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Strategy for overcoming colorectal cancer’s immunotherapy resistance

Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which unleash the immune response against tumor cells, have revolutionised cancer treatment; however, the medications aren’t effective in a large number of patients, including those with colorectal cancer.

New research published in the journal PNAS that was led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) provides insights into why some types of colorectal cancer don’t respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors and offer a strategy to overcome their resistance. “Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and worldwide,” said senior and co-corresponding author Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the E.L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology at MGH. He added, “A major cause of mortality in patients with colorectal cancer is the development of liver metastases, which is the spread of cancer to the liver.”

Jain explains that most colorectal cancers that spread to the liver do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. When the team injected these colorectal cancer cells under the skin in the hind flank of mice (the most commonly used method for studying cancer in these animals), the cells responded well to immune checkpoint inhibitors, unlike what happens in patients.

To address this discrepancy, the investigators decided to take an approach that is referred to as orthotopic (meaning “the normal place in the body”) by injecting the cancer cells in the relevant anatomical sites—for example, the colon, where primary colorectal cancer cells grow, and the liver, where these cells metastasize.

“We found that these colorectal cancer mouse models were profoundly resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors, similar to what is seen in patients,” said co-corresponding author Dai Fukumura. He added, “Our results highlight how the environment in which cancer cells grow can influence the effectiveness of immunotherapy. Also, and most important, they indicate that these orthotopic cancer models should be used to study resistance to immune checkpoint blockade as observed in patients with colorectal cancer.”

To determine how liver metastases are resistant to immune checkpoint blockade, Jain and his colleagues investigated the composition of immune cells present in liver metastases in mice and compared it with that of colorectal cancer cells injected under the skin. “We found that liver metastases lacked certain immune cells–called dendritic cells—that are required for the activation of other immune cells known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which can kill cancer cells,” said lead author William W. Ho. “We saw a similar situation in patients–their liver metastases showed a lack of dendritic cells and activated T lymphocytes.”

When the team augmented the number of dendritic cells within liver metastases (by giving mice a growth factor called Flt3L), the treatment led to an increase in cytotoxic T lymphocytes within the tumors and caused the tumors to become sensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

He added, “Our study highlights the importance of orthotopic tumor models in immunotherapy studies and underscores the relevance of dendritic cells for effective immune checkpoint blockade,” says co-corresponding author Mikael J. Pittet.

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Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which unleash the immune response against tumor cells, have revolutionised cancer treatment; however, the medications aren’t effective in a large number of patients, including those with colorectal cancer.

New research published in the journal PNAS that was led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) provides insights into why some types of colorectal cancer don’t respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors and offer a strategy to overcome their resistance. “Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and worldwide,” said senior and co-corresponding author Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the E.L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology at MGH. He added, “A major cause of mortality in patients with colorectal cancer is the development of liver metastases, which is the spread of cancer to the liver.”

Jain explains that most colorectal cancers that spread to the liver do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. When the team injected these colorectal cancer cells under the skin in the hind flank of mice (the most commonly used method for studying cancer in these animals), the cells responded well to immune checkpoint inhibitors, unlike what happens in patients.

To address this discrepancy, the investigators decided to take an approach that is referred to as orthotopic (meaning “the normal place in the body”) by injecting the cancer cells in the relevant anatomical sites—for example, the colon, where primary colorectal cancer cells grow, and the liver, where these cells metastasize.

“We found that these colorectal cancer mouse models were profoundly resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors, similar to what is seen in patients,” said co-corresponding author Dai Fukumura. He added, “Our results highlight how the environment in which cancer cells grow can influence the effectiveness of immunotherapy. Also, and most important, they indicate that these orthotopic cancer models should be used to study resistance to immune checkpoint blockade as observed in patients with colorectal cancer.”

To determine how liver metastases are resistant to immune checkpoint blockade, Jain and his colleagues investigated the composition of immune cells present in liver metastases in mice and compared it with that of colorectal cancer cells injected under the skin. “We found that liver metastases lacked certain immune cells–called dendritic cells—that are required for the activation of other immune cells known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which can kill cancer cells,” said lead author William W. Ho. “We saw a similar situation in patients–their liver metastases showed a lack of dendritic cells and activated T lymphocytes.”

When the team augmented the number of dendritic cells within liver metastases (by giving mice a growth factor called Flt3L), the treatment led to an increase in cytotoxic T lymphocytes within the tumors and caused the tumors to become sensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

He added, “Our study highlights the importance of orthotopic tumor models in immunotherapy studies and underscores the relevance of dendritic cells for effective immune checkpoint blockade,” says co-corresponding author Mikael J. Pittet.

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