Nav: Home

Cancer studies should include overweight, elderly mice

May 31, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- Researchers should include laboratory mice that are old and obese in their studies of immunotherapy treatments for cancer, according to a review article by Saint Louis University scientists.

"Because most cancer patients are older than 60 years of age, it can be convincingly argued that all preclinical studies testing novel immunotherapies or new combinations should include older mice. Yet this approach is rarely taken," says Ryan Teague, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Saint Louis University and the corresponding author of the article.

The article was the Feature Review of the June 2016 issue of "Trends in Immunology."

The potential of immunotherapy, using the body's immune system to fight disease, to save the lives of cancer patients is undeniable, Teague says. Yet, he adds, scientists are not using the best animal models to predict the effectiveness of immunotherapy in different populations.

Young, healthy mice are nearly universally used in cancer immunotherapy studies even though the immune system grows less responsive with aging. For example, T-cells, which identify pathogens and destroy them, aren't as plentiful and can't mount as robust of an attack as those in a younger person.

"Despite decades of research into the gradual deterioration of the immunity system during aging, this still represents fertile territory for clinically significant discoveries. Direct comparisons of old and young mice in translational preclinical investigation is crucial moving forward," Teague says.

"Older mice represent imperfect but valuable models for human immune aging, and may prove far more accurate than young mice in predicting the efficacy and potential toxicity of novel cancer immunotherapies in this major patient demographic."

His paper encourages researchers to use animal models that are young and old, lean and obese, and different in microbiota to better reflect the patient groups that develop cancer.

Research mice are considered elderly if they are between 16 and 24 months of age, Teague says.

Obesity and differing gut microbes can similarly impact using the body's own immune system as a weapon against cancer, Teague says.

"What determines the success of immunotherapy among diverse patient populations? Insight has come from recent mouse studies revealing that age, obesity and microbiota profoundly influence both natural immunity to cancer and the ability to effectively respond to immunotherapy. This area of investigation is in its infancy, but results are sufficiently compelling to force new thinking into how human cancer immunotherapy is modeled in mice."
Lauryn E. Klevorn and Ryan M. Teague are authors of the paper, "Adapting Cancer Immunotherapy Models for the Real World." The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID; RO1A1087764), a Cancer Research Institute "Clinic and Laboratory Integration Program (CLIP) award and a grant from the Siteman Cancer Center and The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to Teague. Klevorn was supported by a Saint Louis University Presidential Graduate Fellowship.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.

Saint Louis University

Related Cancer Articles:

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.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at