How the white blood cells cause tumours? This was an imminent probe for long and some scientists have identified the cells which are behind the cancerous growth of tumours by suppressing the disease-fighting immune system in the body.
The results mark a turning point in cancer immunology and provide the foundation for developing more effective therapies and was known earlier that a diverse group of white blood cells called myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are more abundant in cancer patients than in healthy individuals.
“We have identified the monocytic cells as the important cell to target, not only in cancer but possibly for treatment of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel diseases where dampening the immune response could provide relief,” said Peter Murray from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, US.
The cells enhance cancer growth and suppress the specialised T cells which act as immunity agents that target and destroy tumour cells and blocking these T cells is one of the main MDSC functions.Working in mouse models of cancer, researchers showed immune suppression linked with MDSCs is mainly due to the work of a type of white blood cells called monocytes.
“We also identified growth factors and other molecules essential to the survival and function of these monocytic cells. Targeting these molecules could lead to more precise approaches for controlling the immune response at the tumour site,” explained Murray.
Their studies provided insight into regulation of two forms of programmed cell-death pathways known as apoptosis and necroptosis, which will pave the way for findings in future to develop immune-based treatments for cancer.
“This study marks a significant step in efforts to understand, develop and optimize immunotherapies for treatment of cancer,” Peter Murray concluded. The study has been published in the journal Immunity.