Inhibiting autophagy does not impair the
immune response to tumors during chemotherapy, revealed a research by Jayanta
Debnath at UCSF and published this week in the JCI. The findings provide support for the
idea that combining autophagy inhibitors with certain chemotherapies
may aid cancer treatment.
Chemotherapies treat cancer by killing tumor cells, but certain types of chemotherapy can also drive an immune system response to target and destroy the remaining tumor cells. This immune targeting is elicited by molecules called damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPS) that are released when a cell is killed.
DAMPs are normally degraded in a process called autophagy, and it has been suggested that limiting the efficiency of autophagy could improve the efficacy of some chemotherapies. However, because autophagy is also critical to other aspects of immune system function, it is possible that inhibiting autophagy could backfire and compromise chemotherapy-driven immune targeting instead.