MAR 15, 2020 6:03 PM PDT

Immune Cells Can Attack Tumors Remotely

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The body's immune system is able to identify the cancerous cells of a tumor and launch an attack against them (the cancerous growth just often overwhelms the body's capabilities). Immunotherapies aim to destroy cancer by enhancing the efficacy of this natural system.

In the video, T lymphocytes (green) attack a tumor (blue and orange). In vivo real-time experiments indicate T lymphocytes act both locally and remotely within the tumor. © Ronan Thibaut and Philippe Bousso, Institut Pasteur / Inserm

Scientists have now learned more about how the immune system tries to limit the growth of tumors. Researchers have used imaging tools on a mouse model to view the movement of immune cells called T lymphocytes as they launched both a local and a remote attack on tumors. The findings have been reported in Nature Cancer.

T lymphocytes can infiltrate tumors and destroy the cancerous cells that they are made of, one by one, using direct contact. This phenomenon is highly localized, and occurs only in the immediate vicinity of these killer T cells. The T lymphocytes produce and release molecules called cytokines. In this research, the scientists aimed to learn more about how one cytokine in particular, called interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), impacts the tumor microenvironment.

The researchers used powerful imaging tools to watch how T lymphocytes behaved in real-time in live mice. They also observed how the IFN-γ was affecting cells within tumors. They saw that the cytokines were not acting locally; they quickly dispersed inside the tumor as well as impacting cells that were farther away from the T cells.

"This remote action within the tumor is very interesting because it enables T lymphocytes to act on a large number of cancer cells, especially those that may have developed mechanisms to escape the immune system," explained the lead study author Philippe Bousso, an Inserm researcher and Head of the Dynamics of Immune Responses Unit at the Institut Pasteur.

The investigators also showed that cytokine levels and the response to the cancer were linked to the number of T lymphocytes that were successfully able to get into the tumor. An analysis of cells from melanoma patients supported the idea that immune cells can act remotely. It may, therefore, be possible to stimulate this response as part of an immunotherapy strategy.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Institut Pasteur, Nature Cancer

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 18, 2020
Health & Medicine
Using Wastewater Surveillance to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks
AUG 18, 2020
Using Wastewater Surveillance to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks
Even as countries are now gradually starting to reopen after lockdown, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Researche ...
AUG 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Rays Might Have Played a Role in Shaping Our Genetic Materials
AUG 14, 2020
Cosmic Rays Might Have Played a Role in Shaping Our Genetic Materials
DNA, whose signature double helix structure scored Watson and Crick (and Frankland presumably according to many) a Nobel ...
AUG 18, 2020
Cardiology
A Key Juncture Between Diabetes and Heart Repair
AUG 18, 2020
A Key Juncture Between Diabetes and Heart Repair
Patients with diabetes are often at increased cardiovascular risk. Recent research points to a possible new target for t ...
AUG 20, 2020
Cardiology
Cilia are Found to Have Vesicles That May Influence Heart Disease
AUG 20, 2020
Cilia are Found to Have Vesicles That May Influence Heart Disease
Cells have many specialized organelles, including a kind of signaling hub called a cilium, which sticks out of the surfa ...
SEP 11, 2020
Cancer
Targeting Senescence in the Peripheral Nervous System to Fight Toxicity
SEP 11, 2020
Targeting Senescence in the Peripheral Nervous System to Fight Toxicity
Chemotherapy is a life-saving discovery for cancer patients. One of its biggest drawbacks is the toxicity that comes wit ...
SEP 14, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Learning More About How Cells Use Phase Separation
SEP 14, 2020
Learning More About How Cells Use Phase Separation
It was once thought that cellular machines called organelles, which are structures bound by membranes, directed most of ...
Loading Comments...