Nav: Home

Blocking the migration of cancer cells to destroy them

August 04, 2016

Lymphoma is a cancer that affects lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. The disease originates in a lymphoid organ (lymph node, spleen, or bone marrow) before spreading through the blood to infiltrate not only other lymphoid organs but also other tissues. Every year, nearly 2,000 people in Switzerland are diagnosed with lymphoma, a disease that can be very aggressive, resisting standard treatments with chemotherapeutic drugs. Today, researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), Switerland, give a new hope to patients. Their innovative approach consists in using an antibody able to neutralize a specific protein to block the migration of lymphoma cells, thus preventing the disease from developing. This still experimental immunotherapeutic strategy paves the way for new treatments against lymphoma. The results can be read in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Lymphocytes, a special type of white blood cell, are essential components of the immune system. But like any other cell, they are not safe from carcinogenic mutations that can cause uncontrolled proliferation. They can then circulate freely in the blood and spread to the lymphatic system, thus causing a tumor called lymphoma.

Lymphoma cells only become truly dangerous when they leave the blood vessels and multiply in the lymphatic system. 'Since they cannot survive in the blood for long, these malignant cells are compelled to find a more accommodating environment - such as the lymphatic system - where they can proliferate. We decided to focus on this Achilles heel by containing them in the blood so as to prevent any resulting harm', explains Thomas Matthes, Professor at UNIGE, Faculty of Medicine, and Doctor at HUG, who supervised the study together with Beat Imhof, Professor at UNIGE, Faculty of Medicine.

A way to prevent malignant cell circulation

The inner wall of blood vessels is formed by a layer of endothelial cells that act as a barrier, which prevents the blood cells from leaving the circulation. Yet, some lymphocytes, having mutated to become cancerous, are equipped with a specific surface marker, the JAM-C protein, also present on the surface of endothelial cells. Like a free pass, its presence on the surface of lymphoma cells facilitates their migration through the vessel walls between adjacent endothelial cells. In order to block the effect of this protein, the scientists drew upon the immune system to develop an antibody targeting JAM-C. Named 'H225' this molecule was designed to bind solely to JAM-C. What was the effect on the lymphoma cells? By masking JAM-C, H225 was able to prevent the cells from migrating out of the blood vessels.

A two-faceted antibody

The H225 antibody proved itself very efficient, decreasing the transit of cancerous cells into the organs of the lymphatic system by over 50%. 'This is not its only effect, Thomas Matthes adds, H225 also significantly limited cell proliferation, even when tumor cells had already settled in the lymphatic system. In our mice, we observed the nearly-complete disappearance of already-present tumor cells in the organs.'

This discovery is in line with the recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, a field that focuses on the design of treatments based on the human immune system. With their specific interest in the JAM-C marker, the Geneva team has laid the foundation for a new therapeutic strategy against lymphoma. The researchers now focus their ongoing efforts on the quest for an efficient treatment that could, in the near future, be offered to patients.
-end-


Université de Genève

Related Cancer Articles:

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.
Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

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

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.