Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tumor wizardry wards off attacks from the immune system

Like the fictional wizard Harry Potter, some cancerous tumors seem capable of wrapping themselves in an invisibility cloak. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that pancreatic tumors hide from the body's immune surveillance by surrounding themselves with cells that make it hard for the immune system to detect them.

The tumor-protecting cells are white blood cells called regulatory T cells, or T-reg for short. Under ordinary circumstances, T-reg cells inhibit immune components responsible for killing unwanted cells -- this allows T-reg cells to help prevent autoimmune reactions.

The scientists discovered that cancerous cells take advantage of T-reg cells' suppressor ability, enlisting them to keep the immune system at bay. Their report appears in the July/August issue of the Journal of Immunotherapy.

"Earlier, we found that T-reg cells are much more prevalent in patients with breast cancer and pancreatic cancer than in healthy patients," says David C. Linehan, M.D., associate professor of surgery and a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center. "The new findings show that tumors are directly responsible for the increase of T-reg cells and can attract T-reg cells to their vicinity. This could be one way for tumors to evade immune surveillance."

Linehan believes this could explain the failure of many experimental anti-cancer vaccines. Such vaccines are designed to rev up the immune response to cancer cells so that the immune system can attack tumors. But a tumor shielded with T-reg cells could potentially circumvent the immune system's attack and remain safe.

In mice implanted with pancreatic cancer, the researchers demonstrated that tumor growth caused an increase in T-reg cells in both the blood stream and in lymph nodes leading from the tumors.

When the research team blocked a signaling molecule that pancreatic tumors secrete in abundance, T-reg cells were no longer present in the tumor-draining lymph nodes, suggesting that this signaling molecule, referred to as TGF-beta, has an important role in weaving a tumor's cloak of invisibility. Such information could lead to a method for blocking tumors from using T-reg cells for protection. Other research by Linehan and colleagues showed that in mice with pancreatic cancer, simply depleting T-reg cells slowed tumor growth and increased survival time.

"We're looking at several potential ways to interfere with tumor recruitment of T-reg cells," Linehan says. "We'd like to see these findings advance cancer immunotherapy. We want to find a way to actively suppress T-reg cells and at the same time actively evoke an immune response to tumor-specific antigens."

In collaboration with other researchers at the School of Medicine, Linehan is planning to set up a clinical trial that pairs T-reg depletion with anti-cancer vaccine as a therapy for pancreatic cancer patients.

"We're attacking the problem from different angles hoping to translate these findings to our patients," Linehan says. "Right now, no effective treatment exists for pancreatic cancer."

Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

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 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>