Sunday, April 3, 2011

Immune profile could predict breast cancer survival

Immune cells tell
researchers much about
breast cancer

Immune markers could guide breast cancer treatment

Researchers say understanding immunity in women with breast cancer could predict survival and improve treatment options. Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have found drugs that can alter tumor growth in mice, based on three types of immune cells.

UCSF Department of Pathology Professor Lisa Coussens, PhD, who led the research explains "If our work translates into the clinic, it may improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in the treatment of certain cancers."

The researchers plan to enroll women in clinical trials later this year at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and two collaborating institutions.

The findings, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, suggest the body should be immune to cancer. Normally, cancer cells should be destroyed by the body's own immune fighting T-cells that can also become dangerous and damage healthy tissue. When that happens, but body uses macrophages to keep T-cells in check. Fewer T cells would help the body destroy cancer tumors.

For the study, the researchers looked at the killer T cell, macrophages, and another immune cell known as a helper T cells in women with breast cancer. 

The abundance of the three types of immune cells found in 677 people with breast cancer  predicted which cancer tumors would metastasize or recur after treatment. Tumors in mice most amenable to chemotherapy had fewer T cells. 

In the lab, the scientists used a drug to reprogram the immune profile of cancer tumors in mice. The drug made cancer more susceptible to chemotherapy.

The scientists aren't certain whether the strategy will work in humans. The next step is to take the findings from the lab to humans. Researchers know the body should be immune to cancer. The new findings show understanding immune profiles in women with breast cancer might predict survival. Changing immune cells with drugs could help destroy cancer.

Source: AACR News