Scientists have discovered why dendritic cell vaccines do not attack cancer as forcefully as expected, and they have demonstrated how to overcome this constraint by bolstering the vaccines tumor-seeking machinery.
The findings, published in the April 4, 2004, issue of Nature Immunology, present a novel method of equipping dendritic cells so they can activate the immune system to fight against cancers, said the researchers from the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and the departments of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center.
Dendritic cells are the "private investigators" of the immune system, detecting foreign proteins in the body -- for example from bacteria and viruses -- and presenting them to "fighter" T-cells for destruction. Scientists turn dendritic cells into cancer vaccines by mixing them with genetic material from the patients tumor and infusing the treated cells back into the patient. The dendritic cells present the tumor particles – called antigens – to the fighter T cells, as though pointing out the enemy to a battalion of soldiers.
Becky Levine | dukemed news
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