The Pharmaceutical Journal, June 18, 2015

Malini Guha 

In his laboratory at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard professor Vikas Sukhatme has identified several surface markers found on a type of immune cell called a myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC).

These cells cause immunosuppression in cancer patients and can counteract the effects of many of the recently approved immunotherapies to treat cancer.

Sukhatme is currently working with a pharmaceutical company to develop an antibody against one of these markers in an attempt to deplete the population of MDSCs.

However, developing such a therapy is likely to take many years and success is far from certain. It has been estimated that it takes 13.5 years to bring a new molecular entity to market and, between 2003 and 2011, the success rate for taking oncology drugs from phase I to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was only around 7%.

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