The spontaneous remission of cancer: Current insights and therapeutic significance. - GreenMedInfo Summary
The spontaneous remission of cancer: Current insights and therapeutic significance.
Transl Oncol. 2021 Sep ;14(9):101166. Epub 2021 Jul 6. PMID: 34242964
Many diseases heal spontaneously. The common cold, for example, remedies itself within a few days in people with an uncompromised immune system. If a disease with a poor prognosis heals in the absence of a targeted therapeutic, many even call it a miracle cure. Such is the case with the spontaneous regression (SR) of malignant neoplasms, a rare but well-documented phenomenon that finds its first mention in the Ebers Papyrus of 1550 BCE. Given the challenges associated with current cancer treatment modalities such as rapidly evolving drug resistance mechanisms, dose-limiting side effects, and a failure to completely eliminate cancer cells, knowledge of how a tumour heals itself would be immensely helpful in developing more effective therapeutic modalities. Although the intricate mechanisms of SR have yet to be fully elucidated, it has been shown that infection-mediated immune system activation, biopsy procedures, and disruptions of the tumour microenvironment play pivotal roles in the self-healing of many tumours. Bacterial and viral infections are especially well-documented in instances of SR. Insights from these findings are paving the way for novel therapeutic strategies. Inspired by bacteria-mediated SR, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) has been used as an approved treatment option for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Similarly, Talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), the first engineered oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV), has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of some forms of advanced melanoma. Here we describe the current understanding of SR, explore its therapeutic significance, and offer perspectives on its future.