eClinical Technology and Industy News

A stealthy way to combat tumors

Biologists show that helper immune cells disguised as cancer cells can help rejuvenate T cells that attack tumors

Date:November 19, 2021

Source:Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary:Researchers uncovered a new way to indirectly activate T cells that can target tumors, by recruiting a population of helper immune cells called dendritic cells.

Excerpt from the Press Release:

Under the right circumstances, the body’s T cells can detect and destroy cancer cells. However, in most cancer patients, T cells become disarmed once they enter the environment surrounding a tumor.

Scientists are now trying to find ways to help treat patients by jumpstarting those lackluster T cells. Much of the research in this field, known as cancer immunotherapy, has focused on finding ways to stimulate those T cells directly. MIT researchers have now uncovered a possible new way to indirectly activate those T cells, by recruiting a population of helper immune cells called dendritic cells.

In a new study, the researchers identified a specific subset of dendritic cells that have a unique way of activating T cells. These dendritic cells can cloak themselves in tumor proteins, allowing them to impersonate cancer cells and trigger a strong T cell response.

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