Some immune cells appear to aid cancer cell growth, U-M study finds

September 05, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The immune system is normally known for protecting the body from illness. But a subset of immune cells appear to be doing more harm than good.

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that these cells, called myeloid derived suppressor cells, provide a niche where the cancer stem cells survive.

Cancer stem cells are thought to be resistant to current chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and researchers believe that killing the cancer stem cells is crucial for eliminating cancer.

At the same time that these immune cells help the cancer, they also are suppressing the immune system.

"This cell and its mechanisms are not good for your body and it helps the cancer by allowing the stem cells to thrive. If we can identify a therapy that targets this, we take away the immune suppression and the support for cancer stem cells. Essentially, we kill two birds with one stone," says senior study author Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D., Charles B. de Nancrede Professor of surgery, immunology and biology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The researchers believe the immune cells give the cancer cells their "stemness" - those properties that allow the cells to be so lethal - and that without this immune cell, the cancer stem cells may not efficiently progress.

The study, which was led by Tracy X. Cui, Ph.D., and Ilona Kryczek, Ph.D., looked at cells from the most common and lethal type of ovarian cancer, a disease in which patients often become resistant to chemotherapy, causing the cancer to return.

Targeting the immune system for cancer treatment, called immunotherapy, has been well-received with many potential therapeutics currently being tested in clinical trials for a variety of cancer types. The U-M team is a worldwide leader in the field of tumor immunology.
-end-
Additional authors: Other contributors are Lili Zhao, Ende Zhao, Rork Kuick, Michael H. Roh, Linda Vatan, Wojciech Szeliga, Yujun Mao, Dafydd G. Thomas, Max S. Wicha, Kathleen Cho, Thomas Giordano, and J. Rebecca Liu, all from the University of Michigan; and Jan Kotarski and Rafal Tarkowski from Medical University in Lublin, Poland.

Ovarian cancer statistics: 22,240 Americans will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and 14,030 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society

Funding: National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute grants CA123088, CA099985, CA156685, CA171306 and 5P30-CA46592; the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research

Disclosure: None

Reference:Immunity, Vol. 39, No. 3, Sept. 19, 2013

Resources:

U-M Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125

U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, http://www.mcancer.org

Clinical trials at U-M, http://www.mcancer.org/clinicaltrials

University of Michigan Health System

Related Stem Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

SUTD researchers create heart cells from stem cells using 3D printing
SUTD researchers 3D printed a micro-scaled physical device to demonstrate a new level of control in the directed differentiation of stem cells, enhancing the production of cardiomyocytes.

More selective elimination of leukemia stem cells and blood stem cells
Hematopoietic stem cells from a healthy donor can help patients suffering from acute leukemia.

Computer simulations visualize how DNA is recognized to convert cells into stem cells
Researchers of the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW - The Netherlands) and the Max Planck Institute in Münster (Germany) have revealed how an essential protein helps to activate genomic DNA during the conversion of regular adult human cells into stem cells.

First events in stem cells becoming specialized cells needed for organ development
Cell biologists at the University of Toronto shed light on the very first step stem cells go through to turn into the specialized cells that make up organs.

Surprising research result: All immature cells can develop into stem cells
New sensational study conducted at the University of Copenhagen disproves traditional knowledge of stem cell development.

The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.

Healthy blood stem cells have as many DNA mutations as leukemic cells
Researchers from the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology have shown that the number of mutations in healthy and leukemic blood stem cells does not differ.

New method grows brain cells from stem cells quickly and efficiently
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a faster method to generate functional brain cells, called astrocytes, from embryonic stem cells.

NUS researchers confine mature cells to turn them into stem cells
Recent research led by Professor G.V. Shivashankar of the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore and the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy, has revealed that mature cells can be reprogrammed into re-deployable stem cells without direct genetic modification -- by confining them to a defined geometric space for an extended period of time.

Researchers develop a new method for turning skin cells into pluripotent stem cells
Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, have for the first time succeeded in converting human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells by activating the cell's own genes.

Read More: Stem Cells News and Stem Cells 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.