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

Your Immune System: On Surveillance in the War Against Cancer

Published: Monday, May 13, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, May 13, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Wake Forest Baptist Research looks at gene expression profiling in breast cancer.

Predicting outcomes for cancer patients based on tumor-immune system interactions is an emerging clinical approach, and new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is advancing the field when it comes to the most deadly types of breast cancer.

"We know that one function of our immune system is to detect and destroy pre-malignant cells before they can become cancer," said lead author Lance D. Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of cancer biology at Wake Forest Baptist. "However, sometimes the immune system becomes unresponsive to the presence of these cells and a tumor develops."

This unresponsiveness can be temporary, and the immune system can remain alerted to the fact that there's a problem. Immune cells can stand post along the borders of the tumor and even infiltrate the tumor core, where they may gain a better position for eventual attack. "We now have technologies that allow us to quantify aspects of this interaction and from that information we can make predictions about cancer outcomes, Miller said."

The study published online ahead of print last month in the journal Genome Biology.

This approach is known as gene expression profiling, and by studying the expression profiles of 2,000 human breast tumors, Miller and his team identified several immune gene signatures that reflect the abundance and anti-tumor properties of different types of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. They found that in certain aggressive types of breast cancer, such as basal-like or triple negative disease, these immune signatures were highly predictive of cancer recurrence years after initial treatment.

"Strikingly, the patients who seemed to benefit the most were those with highly proliferative and clinically aggressive disease," Miller said. "In these cases, high expression levels of the immune genes predicted for recurrence-free survival, while low immune gene expression predicted for a high likelihood of cancer recurrence."

An important next step, Miller said, will be translating this into a diagnostic test that may help doctors make more informed treatment decisions.

"Knowing a tumor's immunogenic disposition could help oncologists know whether to prescribe more or less aggressive treatment regimens, or perhaps, to know which drugs, specifically, will be most effective," he said.

For doctors like Bayard Powell, M.D., chief of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest Baptist's Comprehensive Cancer Center, new drugs designed to enhance anti-tumor immune responses are beginning to play a major role in the treatment of certain forms of cancer.

"At Wake Forest Baptist we are now fighting cancer with state-of-the-art therapies including immunotherapeutics," Powell said. "How a tumor's immunogenic disposition influences the effectiveness of immunotherapeutic drugs is an important question that could lead to valuable new strategies in personalized medicine."

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.

Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Agilent Presents Early Career Professor Award to Dr. Roeland Verhaak
JAX professor recognized for the development and implementation of workflows for the analysis of big-data from transcriptomics to next generation sequencing approaches.
Ovarian Cancer Insight
Study showed tumours release cytokines to attract macrophages, which secrete growth factors that in turn promote tumour growth.
Bacterial Genes Boost Current in Human Cells
Borrowing and tweaking bacterial genes to enhance electrical activity might treat heart, nervous system injury.
Less Frequent Cervical Cancer Screening
HPV-vaccinated women may only need one screening every 5 to 10 years with screening starting later in life.
Questioning the Safety of Selenium to Combat Cancer
Research indicates the need for change in practice as selenium supplements cannot be recommended for preventing colorectal cancer.
Supercomputers Could Improve Cancer Diagnostics
Researchers push the boundaries of cancer research through high-performance computing to map the human immunone.
Transgenomic, Precipio Diagnostics Merger
Merger will creates a robust diagnostic platform focused on improving accuracy of cancer diagnoses.
Leukaemia Cell Movement Gives Clues to Tackling Treatment-Resistant Disease
Researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that the act of moving itself may help the cells to survive, possibly through short-lived interactions with an array of our own cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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