Nav: Home

Scientists use tumor-derived dendritic cells to slow tumor growth

January 25, 2017

In the human body, so-called dendritic cells are responsible for activating our immune system. While researchers previously believed that tumors could repress these dendritic cells - blocking an adequate natural cancer defense mechanism - a new study has painted a more positive picture. A team led by prof. Jo Van Ginderachter (VIB-Vrije Universiteit Brussel) revealed that two immune response-stimulating dendritic cell types do exist within tumors. The scientists were able to isolate these cells and use them to "vaccinate" tumors, slowing tumor growth. This success could lead to innovative new cancer immunotherapies. The results of the study are published in the high-impact journal Nature Communications.

Dendritic cells, or 'DCs', are a hot topic when it comes to cancer immunotherapy development, making them heavily investigated by the scientific community. The findings of prof. Van Ginderachter's research team suggest a new approach in which DCs are taken from surgically-removed tumors and used to "vaccinate" the same patient, making use of the patient's own immune system in slowing tumor growth. In the search for the "perfect" DC for this kind of therapy, these researchers may have a definitive answer.

Surprise: two specific DCs found in human tumor tissues

Contrary to expectations, the team was able to discover and identify two immune system-stimulating DC groups in tumors, dubbed cDC1 and cDC2. Each of them cause specific types of immune responses, and they are present in both human and mouse tumors.

Prof. Van Ginderachter (VIB-VUB): "We believe that DCs taken from tumors are well-suited for cancer immunotherapy, since they've been confirmed present within removed tumors and cause a strong anti-tumor response even in low numbers. The fact that we even discovered two different suitable DC types comes as a surprise!"

The future of cancer immunotherapy

Prof. Van Ginderachter and his team, which was largely driven by PhD student Jiri Keirsse and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Damya Laoui, relied on the help of outside experts to both identify dendritic cells and to get the human tissues needed to perform the research. As an authority on DCs, Martin Guilliams of the Inflammation Research Center in Ghent was essential to the study. Massimiliano Mazzone (VIB-KU Leuven) had access to human tumor samples and was responsible for coordinating the availability of these tissues.

Prof. Van Ginderachter (VIB-VUB): "For this study, we performed vaccinations using the DCs that we took from actual tumors to reveal their potential. Logically, the next step will be to find out whether vaccination will be successful in a therapeutic setting. We will have to remove the tumor, isolate the DCs and then re-inject them into the same individual to discover whether we can prevent the formation of new tumors and relapse of the main tumor. These next steps are also crucial for us to better understand why some tumors respond better to cDC2, and others to cDC1 vaccination. For this part we are actively looking for a partner."

* The research group of prof. Van Ginderachter is part of the VIB Center for Inflammation Research*
-end-


VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".