Case Western Reserve receives $1.6M to study tumor cells and immune cell detection

March 31, 2011

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study how tumor cells avoid detection by the body's immune system, allowing cancer to develop and spread.

The five-year National Institutes of Health grant will enable researchers led by Alex Y. Huang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, pathology, and biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine, and a hematologist and oncologist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, to examine "immune tolerance." The process keeps tumor cells from being detected by the immune system, even when they invade draining lymph nodes, a place where primary immune activation and surveillance take place. Lymph nodes are part of the body's lymphatic system, which fights off viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing agents.

The study will also test whether modifying the environment in which tumor and immune cell interactions take place, using a group of proteins called inflammatory chemokines, will activate unresponsive immune cells into fighting off cancer. Using inflammatory chemokines as part of the anti-tumor strategies is a novel approach to cancer treatment.

"This research will provide greater insight into the potential therapeutic utilities of inflammatory chemokines, thereby providing a new direction for the development of immunotherapies that are capable of fighting cancer at the most basic cellular level," Dr. Huang says, who is also an associate member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at the School of Medicine and director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "Any effective cellular immunotherapy must enhance long-term tumor immunity, effectively concentrating immune cells and priming them to destroy cancer cells anywhere in the body over long periods of time."

Researchers will work to leverage the immune system's unique ability to generate immune memory to eradicate any future cancer cell development that is derived from a primary tumor, according to Dr. Huang. They will use an advanced imaging technique called intravital 2-photon laser scanning microscopy to directly visualize tumor and immune cell interactions in real-time.

Dr. Huang's laboratory has been at the forefront of developing this imaging technology, which he says provides a "court-side" view of how tumors and the immune system interact with one another within intact tissue as cancer spreads to the lymph nodes. The technology is designed to provide a powerful in vivo experimental platform to monitor future anti-cancer or immunotherapy approaches, as opposed to static tissue analysis or single-cell analysis on a plastic petri dish, he explains.

Dr. Huang's research is among the first attempts to directly visualize the tolerance of immune cells by metastatic cancer cells in the draining lymph node at a cellar level, in a dynamic fashion.

As a practicing pediatric hematologist and oncologist, Dr. Huang aims to one day be able to apply the scientific insight gained from this research in a pediatric care setting.
-end-
About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school of medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu.

Case Western Reserve University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and 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.