APR 11, 2017 10:05 AM PDT

Battling the Cancer Takeover of Immune Cells

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

An overwhelming majority of cancer deaths are in some way connected to metastasis even though the immune system is rather effective at scouring the bloodstream for traveling cancer cells. This is because cancer cells have found a way around the ever-watching eye of the immune system, by seizing control of myeloid-derived suppressive cells (MDSCs) from the bone marrow.

Credit: Phil Jones, Senior Augusta University Photographer

"There is a very intricate balance in the immune system that is usually anti-tumorigenic, meaning it eliminates tumors, but in some cases, if this balance is altered, these cells may actually help tumors grow and develop into full-blown metastatic disease," explained Hasan Korkaya, PhD from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

MDSCs are conveniently capable of suppressing the immune response. While immune regulation is vital in some situations, cancer cells take advantage of MDSCs, using their “powers” for “evil” instead of “good.” MDSCs are found in high levels in mouse models and humans with cancer, and researchers from the Medical College of Georgia are working on unveiling the role of MDSCs in cancer metastasis.

Cancer cells secrete cytokines just like the immune system to communicate with MDSCs, and two different types of MDSCs are evidently useful to the cancer agenda.

  • Monocytic cells facilitate the tumor cell transition into a stem cell-like state to enable them to leave the primary tumor, enter the bloodstream, travel to a new area of the body, and set up camp

  • Granulocytic cells expedite the transition back to cancer cells and the multiplication process to build a new population of tumors

The therapeutic plan of attack is to “re-school” MDSCs to shift their loyalty back to the immune system, attacking cancer cells instead of protecting them. Additionally, researchers are interested in identifying and targeting cytokines used by cancer cells to communicate with MDSCs, literally killing the messenger.

The present study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 04, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 04, 2018
New Blood Test Detects Peanut Allergy with 98% Specificity
A new blood test trumps traditional diagnostic methods for determining peanut allergy, the most common allergy for children. From the Medical Research Coun...
MAY 17, 2018
Immunology
MAY 17, 2018
Epigenetic Similarities Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Huntington's Disease
A detailed investigation into the epigenome of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients revealed unexpected similarities between RA and Huntington’s diseas...
MAY 22, 2018
Cancer
MAY 22, 2018
Novel PD-L1/TGF-ß Fusion Protein for HPV-Associated Cancers Enters Phase II Clinical Trial
Novel PD-L1/TGF-ß fusion protein for HPV-associated cancers enters phase II clinical trial. Oncology researchers excited about the potential of this bi-functional protein to combat cancer...
JUL 25, 2018
Immunology
JUL 25, 2018
T Cell Response to Ebola Virus Proteins
Killer T cells of Ebola survivors respond better to nucleoproteins, not glycoproteins, potentially influencing Ebola vaccine development....
AUG 04, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 04, 2018
The Viral Link to Irritable Bowel Disease
We now know of the importance of the microbiome, but most of the research focus has been on bacteria....
AUG 31, 2018
Immunology
AUG 31, 2018
B Cells Control Connective Tissue Disorder Scleroderma
Effector and Regulatory B cells play reciprocal role in pathogenesis of scleroderma....
Loading Comments...