In 10 seconds? Scientists have pinpointed a potential cause for the side-effects of a type of immunotherapy called immune checkpoint blockade. This is an important step in overcoming adverse events associated with this cancer treatment.

So what is the contribution of this new study? The authors of this study wanted to find out if it was possible to reap the benefits of immunotherapy without the adverse events, so they had to find what’s behind the side effects. Studying biopsy samples from the liver of patients who suffered toxic reactions to immunotherapy, the scientists found out that different groups of cells were behind different effects of immunotherapy. Importantly, two types of immune cells called macrophages and neutrophils seem to be the ones to attack healthy tissues as a result of immunotherapy stimulation, whereas another group of cells called dendritic cells do not attack healthy tissues, but are directly involved in the process of killing cancer cells.

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