Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Depletion of ‘Traitor’ Immune Cells Slows Cancer Growth in Mice

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Bookmark and Share
When a person has cancer, some of the cells in his or her body have changed and are growing uncontrollably.

Most cancer drugs try to treat the disease by killing those fast-growing cells, but another approach called immunotherapy tries to stimulate a person’s own immune system to attack the cancer itself.

Now, scientists at the University of Washington have developed a strategy to slow tumor growth and prolong survival in mice with cancer by targeting and destroying a type of cell that dampens the body’s immune response to cancer. The researchers published their findings the week of Sept. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’re really enthusiastic about these results because they suggest an alternative drug target that could be synergistic with current treatments,” said co-author Suzie Pun, a UW associate professor of bioengineering.

Our immune system normally patrols for and eliminates abnormal cells. Macrophages are a type of helpful immune cell that can be converted to the “dark side” by signals they receive from a tumor. When inside a tumor, macrophages can switch from helping the immune system to suppressing the body’s immune response to cancer. Several studies show a correlation between the number of macrophages in tumor biopsies and poor prognosis for patients, Pun said.

The UW team developed a method to target and eliminate the cancer-supporting macrophages in mouse tumors. Researchers predict this strategy could be used along with current treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer patients.

“We think this would amplify cancer treatments and hopefully make them better,” Pun said.

Scientists have a strong understanding of the behavior of macrophages in tumors, but most current methods to remove them do away with all macrophages in the body indiscriminately instead of targeting only the harmful ones that live in tumors.

In this study, UW bioengineering doctoral student Maryelise Cieslewicz designed a method to find a specific amino-acid sequence – or a peptide – that binds only the harmful macrophages in tumors and ignores helpful ones in the bodies of mice. When this sequence was injected into mice with cancer, the research team found that the peptide collected in the macrophage cells within tumors, leaving alone other healthy organs.

Once they discovered they could deliver the peptide sequence to specific cells, the researchers attached another peptide to successfully kill the harmful macrophages without affecting other cells. The mice had slower tumor growth and better survival when treated with this material.

The research team plans to test this method with existing cancer drugs to hopefully boost the success of other treatments.

The peptide sequence that successfully bound to harmful macrophages in mice doesn’t bind to their counterparts in humans, Pun said, but the researchers expect soon to find a similar peptide that targets human cells. They plan to use this method to investigate treatments for other types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancers.

The Pun research team collaborated with the UW labs of Elaine Raines in pathology and André Lieber in medical genetics on this study.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Are White Cells the Key to Better Malaria Vaccines?
A class of white cells that was previously thought to play a minor role in defence against malaria infection may be a potent weapon against the parasite.
Monday, August 01, 2016
Immune Booster Tested in Advanced Merkel Cell Cancer
The immunotherapy drug produced durable responses in many patients.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Pandemic E. coli Strain Cloaks its Stealth Strategies
Antibiotic resistance and weakened immunity only partially explain persistent, harmful infection.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Mitochondrial Troublemakers Unmasked in Lupus
Drivers of autoimmune disease inflammation discovered in the traps of pathogen-capturing white blood cells.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Draining Speeds up Bioassays
New methodology means biological assays that once took hours could instead take minutes.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Editing Genes to Create HIV Killers
Seattle scientists have managed to genetically transform human cells in the lab from HIV targets to HIV killers, and the technique could have implications for cancer and other diseases.
Monday, October 05, 2015
Antibody Pries Loose Bacteria’s Grip
Study finds novel method of improving antibody efficacy.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Scientific News
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Overlooked Molecules Could Revolutionise our Understanding of the Immune System
Researchers have discovered that around one third of all the epitopes displayed for scanning by the immune system are a type known as ‘spliced’ epitopes.
NIH Study Determines Key Differences between Allergic and Non-Allergic Dust Mite Proteins
Researchers at NIH have uncovered factors that lead to the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
New Antibody Therapy Permanently Blocks SIV Infection
An international research team has developed an effective treatment strategy against the HIV-like Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in rhesus macaques.
Contribution Increases by Tenfold The Mouse Mutation Resources of One Type Available
The repository provides academic researchers with unique genetic models that are unavailable commercially.
3D-Printing in Science: Conference Co-Staged with LABVOLUTION
LABVOLUTION 2017 will have an added highlight of a simultaneous conference, "3D-Printing in Science".
DNA Vaccines Protect Monkeys Against Zika Virus
Two experimental Zika virus DNA vaccines developed by NIH scientists protected monkeys against Zika infection.
Rare Flu-Thwarting Mutation Discovered
Study finds protein mutation, that is encoded by influenza, causes the virus to lose any defence against the immune system.
Mapping the Human Immune System
Researchers try to harness supercomputers to create the first map of the human immune system.
Antibody Drug Conjugates May Help Personalize Radiotherapy
Biomarker-driven study shows promise in sensitizing HER2 positive tumors to radiation and chemotherapy.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos