Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lipids Help to Fight Leukemia


T cells use a novel mechanism to fight leukemia.

They may recognize unique lipids produced by cancer cells and kill tumor cells expressing these lipid molecules. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Basel shows that a tumor-associated lipid stimulates specific T cells, which efficiently kill leukemia cells both in vitro and in animal models. The results have been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Leukemias are cancer diseases affecting blood cells . Acute leukemias prevent development of normal bold cells and thereby are severe life-threatening diseases. Current therapy for acute leukemias is based on chemotherapy that eradicates tumor cells followed by bone-marrow stem cell transplantation that reconstitutes the patient with healthy blood cells. In some cases, leukemia cells survive this treatment and start to re-grow. A major aim of many studies is finding novel and efficient ways to detect and eradicate leukemia cells before a second outbreak of the disease.

More punch against tumor cells

T lymphocytes are major contributors to fight against leukemias. T cells may recognize and become activated by tumor-specific protein antigens in some instances produced in large amounts only by tumor cells. These protein antigens are also called tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and stimulate specific T cells, which in turn kill leukemia cells. However, protein TAA accumulation can be drastically reduced by variant leukemia cells and some TAA may change their structure, thus preventing recognition by T cells and facilitating tumor immune evasion.

Prof. Gennaro De Libero and his team from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel has identified a new approach that might help to make the immune system more efficient in recognizing leukemia cells. His research team is studying T cells that specifically recognize lipid antigens since several years. Together with colleagues in Italy, China and Singapore, the Swiss team has identified a new lipid that accumulates in leukemia cells and that stimulates specific T cell responses. The new lipid methyl-lysophosphatidic acid (mLPA) is very abundant in several forms of human leukemias and is the first example of a lipid TAA.

Therapeutic implications in human leukemia

The published study also shows that it is possible to isolate human T cells that specifically recognize and kill mLPA-expressing leukemia cells in in vitro tests. When these T cells were transplanted into mice, they also displayed great in vivo therapeutic efficacy against leukemia cells.

An important feature of mLPA is that differently from protein TAA, it does not change its structure, and remains abundant in leukemia cells. The Swiss team is now investigating, whether mLPA can be used to target leukemia cells in addition to protein TAA. This type of immunotherapy may be extremely beneficial in preventing relapses of the disease after chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. It opens new avenues to novel non-invasive cancer immunotherapies.

Original source
Marco Lepore, Claudia de Lalla, S. Ramanjaneyulu Gundimeda, Heiko Gsellinger, Michela Consonni, Claudio Garavaglia, Sebastiano Sansano, Francesco Piccolo, Andrea Scelfo, Daniel Häussinger, Daniela Montagna, Franco Locatelli, Chiara Bonini, Attilio Bondanza, Alessandra Forcina, Zhiyuan Li, Guanghui Ni, Fabio Ciceri, Paul Jenö, Chengfeng Xia, Lucia Mori, Paolo Dellabona, Giulia Casorati, and Gennaro De Libero
A novel self-lipid antigen targets human T cells against CDc+ leukemias
The Journal of Experimental Medicine (2014) | doi: 10.1084/jem.20140410

Further information
• Prof. Gennaro De Libero, University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine, phone: +41 61 265 23 65, email:
• Dr. Lucia Mori, University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine, phone: +41 61 265 23 27, email:

Weitere Informationen: - Abstract

Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Further information:

Further reports about: Lipids Medicine chemotherapy diseases leukemia structure

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tissue-engineered colon from human cells develop different types of neurons
02.10.2015 | Children's Hospital Los Angeles

nachricht Big eyes! – MDC Researchers Identify Cause of Inherited Form of Extreme Nearsightedness
02.10.2015 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>