Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What the Immune System Reveals about Breast Cancer

16.06.2009
Researchers of Mainz University identify the prognostic significance of the immune system in breast tumors

Researchers working with Dr Marcus Schmidt in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Medical Center Mainz have unlocked the key to the immune system's significance in cases of breast cancer, thus identifying its long-neglected role in the prognosis of the disease.

Their research results, published in the renowned Cancer Research journal, show that patients with certain breast tumors have a better prognosis when more immune cells are present in the tumor. These results permitted the scientists to extend the "coordinate system" in case of breast tumors to include the immune system as the third important reference point for the prognosis of this disease, in addition to the long-established prognostic factors of estrogen receptor expression and proliferative activity (Cancer Research, 1 July 2008; Cancer Research, 1 April 2009).

In the past, physicians searched intensively for criteria and factors permitting a reliable conclusion on the prognosis for node-negative breast cancer, that is, where the axillary lymph nodes show no tumour invasion. Two factors were established during numerous studies: estrogen receptor expression and proliferative activity, i.e., the rate of tumor cell division. The more estrogen receptors were detected in a patient, the better the prognosis was. The more proliferative activity there was, i.e., the faster the cells divided, the poorer the prognosis. Whether the prognosis is good or poor depends on the instance of early distance metastases in the liver, lungs, and bones in the first five years.

"However, the system of the two coordinates 'estrogen receptor expression' and 'proliferative activity' was not sufficiently reliable in the prognosis of all tumors," explained Dr Marcus Schmidt, senior physician at the Department for Obstetrics and Gynecology in the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "Particularly puzzling was a group of tumors that did not generate any early metastases, despite a high rate of proliferation and low estrogen receptor levels - currently considered to be the criteria for a poor prognosis. This could not be explained with the knowledge at hand. Applying a third criterion - the immune system - we can now round out this somewhat incomplete picture of the prognosis for breast cancer to achieve a more conclusive one."

The scientists tracked the immune system using gene expression analysis. With this analysis, a large number of genes can be identified and characterized with respect to their activity in the tumor tissue. "Using this method, we can examine the development of more than 14,500 genes - i.e., their expression," explained Marcus Schmidt. "During these studies on the tissue of 200 patients, we came across a group of genes with which we were able to explain the currently inexplicably good prognosis in the case of a certain group of rapidly dividing tumors. Primarily, we were able to attribute these genes to immune system cells - B cells and T cells. The more of these immune cell transcripts were present, the better the prognosis was - particularly with tumors in which a poor prognosis was expected because of the high rate of proliferation."

To validate and confirm their findings, the researchers of Mainz University examined the data of two other patient groups whose gene expression data had been published and is therefore accessible. The results in both cases were the same as with the Mainz patient group. With this additional data, they had access to the tissue samples of a total of 788 patients. "For us, this confirms that the immune system plays a fundamental role in breast cancer prognosis, and its importance is comparable to that of the tumor cell division rate," explained Marcus Schmidt. "Our research work should consequently draw attention to the long-neglected role of the immune system in breast cancer, expanding on and complementing the currently known factors of estrogen receptor expression and proliferative activity."

In Marcus Schmidt's view, however, the significance of these findings goes beyond improved characterization and prognostic assessment in the case of node-negative breast tumors. For example, the observed protective effect of immune cells, which occur naturally in the tumor in any event, presents a clear case for using the favorable role of the immune system in breast cancer prognosis as additional therapy with inoculation strategies.

Marcus Schmidt, Daniel Böhm, Christian von Törne, Eric Steiner, Alexander Puhl, Henryk Pilch, Hans-Anton Lehr, Jan G. Hengstler, Heinz Kölbl and Mathias Gehrmann
The Humoral Immune System Has a Key Prognostic Impact in Node-Negative Breast Cancer
Cancer Research; 68: (13). July 1, 2008 (5405-13)
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/13/5405
Marcus Schmidt, Jan G. Hengstler, Christian von Thöme, Heinz Kölbl and Mathias C. Gehrmann
Coordinates in the Universe of Node-Negative Breast Cancer Revisited
Cancer Research; 69: (7). April 1, 2009 (2695-8)

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/13/5405
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/69/7/2695

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>