Medical

Breakthrough study stops cancer hijacking immune cells

Breakthrough study stops cance...
A new study has found a way to reverse one of cancer's crafty little tricks, where it hijacks the immune system to help its growth
A new study has found a way to reverse one of cancer's crafty little tricks, where it hijacks the immune system to help its growth
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Vineet Gupta, co-senior corresponding author of the study
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Vineet Gupta, co-senior corresponding author of the study
A new study has found a way to reverse one of cancer's crafty little tricks, where it hijacks the immune system to help its growth
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A new study has found a way to reverse one of cancer's crafty little tricks, where it hijacks the immune system to help its growth

Cancer is crafty, using a wide range of insidious tricks to ensure it can survive and spread in the body. But now researchers at Rush University and the University of California, San Diego have found a way to intervene in one of these schemes, preventing tumors from recruiting immune cells to help them grow and metastasize.

Myeloid cells are a type of white blood cell that patrols the body looking for pathogens, but there are actually two sub-types of them. The M1 macrophage has been found to suppress tumor growth, while M2s do the opposite – they fight off helpful T cells (the foot soldiers of the immune system) and actively help cancer grow and spread.

The new study uncovered a vital clue to what makes myeloid cells become one macrophage or the other. It turns out that the key is a protein called CD11b that is found on the surface of myeloid cells. When CD11b activity goes up, the number of M1 myeloid cells also increases, while low CD11b causes more M2 cells to develop. To take advantage of this, tumors actively suppress the protein to create more M2 cells and therefore boost their own growth.

With that mechanism uncovered, the researchers then experimented to see if CD11b could be a potential target for cancer treatment. They engineered mice that completely lacked the protein then transplanted tumors into them, and found that those tumors grew much bigger than tumors in control-group mice.

Vineet Gupta, co-senior corresponding author of the study
Vineet Gupta, co-senior corresponding author of the study

Next, the team tried the inverse. They gave normal mice a molecule called Leukadherin-1 (LA-1), which boosts the function of CD11b, and found that tumors shrank significantly. And finally, to make doubly sure that this protein was the right target, they engineered a mouse that had CD11b active all the time, instead of just sporadically like normal mice. Their tumors also shrank drastically.

The researchers say these results indicate that CD11b is a promising target for new cancer immunotherapy techniques. It will still be a number of years before it may be available as an option for human patients, but the team plans to continue working on it.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: Rush University

4 comments
Laurie Czerwinski
That is an outstanding, great discovery on their part!I hope you can find the healthy balance between M1 and M2 !..(even though that seems difficult with regards to potentially disturbing the balance of the regular amount of immunity T cells.. or, I mean, will it disturb our regular 'amount' of existing immunity T cells?.) and still in experimental stage...Congratulations on your discovery! I am sure that the LA1 will help shrink the tumors which is the priority. Going further, wouldn't it be great to Educate the public on what you know about the creation of those radical anomalies/TUMORS?! Thankyou.
Observer101
Great, but WHY would it take years to try on humans? There have got to be plenty of VOLUNTEERS who realize the risks involved, but who have nothing to lose by trying this....
Don Duncan
With people dying every day, people who would volunteer today for human trials because they have nothing to lose, and this is their only hope, the gov stops them, sentencing them to death, "in the name of public safety". This is absurd. The bureaucratic obstacles violate our right to life, to choose with respect to our bodies, but so does the FDA, DEA, and all the drug laws. The gov, with permission of the majority, is ruling, killing us with its controls, ruining our economy (not protecting us from business). It was a mistake to let a few elite run our lives. We must self-govern so we have the best chance to survive.
harris
I agree with those outraged about the time it takes for an innovation to be applied to patients.., Why not starting trials in humans ... immediately after the discovery..?