Jump-starting T cells in skin cancer

January 17, 2005

Advanced melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, can be successfully treated in some cases by vaccinating patients with tumor proteins. How these vaccines work and why they are only effective in some patients remains unclear. Pierre Coulie and colleagues now show, in two articles in the January 17 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, that these vaccines work by increasing the number of immune cells called killer T cells that can attack the tumor. In an unexpected finding, however, they discovered that that these cells mostly recognize tumor proteins that were not contained in the vaccine. Understanding the characteristics of the T cell populations that are expanded after vaccination may help in the development of more effective anti-tumor vaccines.

Tumor-specific T cells can be detected in the blood and the tumors of many melanoma patients, and yet these cells are unable to kill the tumor. What causes the impotence of these T cells is a mystery. Equally mysterious is why vaccination against tumor-specific proteins sometimes causes tumor regression without expanding large numbers of vaccine-specific killer T cells.

Pierre Coulie's group studied anti-tumor T cells in patients vaccinated with a tumor antigen called MAGE-3. In one patient whose tumor regressed after vaccination, the authors found significantly more T cells specific for non-vaccine tumor proteins than were detected before vaccination. Vaccine-specific T cells, on the other hand, became detectable but did not expand to large numbers. Thus, reinvigoration of existing tumor-specific T cells after vaccination did not require large numbers of vaccine-specific T cells.

Although it is not known how these tumor-specific cells get activated, Coulie thinks that the few T cells stimulated by the vaccine may change the local, suppressive environment of the tumor such that other T cells can snap out of their stupor and attack the tumor.
-end-


Journal of Experimental Medicine

Related Skin Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Increasing the effectiveness of immunotherapy against skin cancer
Researchers at the University of Bern have discovered a mechanism in the body's own immune system which is responsible for the maturation and activation of immune cells.

New electronic skin can react to pain like human skin
New pain-sensing prototype mimics the body's near-instant feedback response and reacts to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain.

Studying how skin cancer starts
New research by Ortiz-Rodríguez and mentor Carlos Crespo, a professor and lead researcher in the The Crespo Group lab, reveals for perhaps the first time how quickly certain pre-cancerous lesions can form on the DNA of our skin when exposed to sunlight.

Skin-to-skin 'kangaroo care' shows important benefits for premature babies
A world-first study led by Monash University has demonstrated significant benefits to a premature baby's heart and brain function when held by the parent in skin-to-skin contact.

Mother/infant skin-to-skin touch boosts baby's brain development and function
As the world prioritizes social distancing due to COVID-19, research shows that extended use of Kangaroo Care, a skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest method of caring for a baby, can positively benefit full-term infants and their mothers, with important implications for post-partum depression.

IU researcher makes skin cancer discovery
An Indiana University cancer researcher has identified eight new genomic regions that increase a person's risk for skin cancer.

Skin-to-skin contact do not improve interaction between mother and preterm infant
Following a premature birth it is important that the parents and the infant quickly establish a good relationship.

Research reveals potential dangers during skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby following cesarean section birth
Research in the latest edition of the European Journal of Anaesthesiology (the official journal of the European Society of Anaesthesiology) reports the potential dangers of allowing skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby in the operating room, following a cesarean section birth.

Helping skin cells differentiate could be key to treating common skin cancer
A new study from Penn researchers has identified the key regulator that controls how the skin replaces itself and which can determine if cells turn into cancer.

Protein linked to aggressive skin cancer
Almost 300,000 people worldwide develop malignant melanoma each year. The disease is the most serious form of skin cancer and the number of cases reported annually is increasing, making skin cancer one of Sweden's most common forms of cancer.

Read More: Skin Cancer News and Skin Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.