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Fighting cancer with immunotherapy: Signaling molecule causes regression of blood vessels

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Immunotherapy with T-cells offers great hope to people suffering from cancer. Some initial successes have already been made in treating blood cancer, but treating solid tumors remains a major challenge. The signaling molecule interferon gamma, which is produced by T-cells, plays a key role in the therapy. It cuts off the blood supply to tumors, as a new study reveals.

A microscopic image of tumor tissue under the influence of TNF (left) and IFN- ? (right). Red blood cells are pictured in a magenta color. TNF bursts the blood vessels and releases large amounts of blood cells, whereas IFN-? lets vessels retreat.
Credit: Christian Friese / MDC

Immunotherapy with T-cells offers great hope to people suffering from cancer. Some initial successes have already been made in treating blood cancer, but treating solid tumors remains a major challenge. The signaling molecule interferon gamma, which is produced by T-cells, plays a key role in the therapy. It cuts off the blood supply to tumors, as a new study in the journal Nature reveals.

The immune system is the body’s most powerful weapon against diseases. So what if it were possible to use the immune system to fight cancer? For a long time now, researchers have been trying to do just that — for example, by employing a special kind of immune cell called T-cells. They are „special mobile forces“ that — after undergoing training — patrol the body, and can seek out and kill cancer cells. This strategy has been successful in initial clinical trials — but mostly just in the treatment of cancers that do not form tumors, such as blood cancer.

Good at fighting blood cancer, but not so effective against solid tumors

Large solid tumors, on the other hand, sometimes pose big problems for T-cells. Though adept at targeting cancer cells swimming in the bloodstream, they have difficulty attacking compact tumors. The tumor weakens the aggressors through the delivery of inhibiting signals.

The scientists working with Dr. Thomas Kammertöns, Prof. Thomas Blankenstein, Prof. Hans Schreiber and Christian Friese are searching for solutions with their research team at Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the Einstein Foundation.

In a study published in the journal Nature, they investigated how the signaling molecules of T-cells affect the immediate tumor environment, which includes the connective tissue as well as the blood vessels that supply the tumor.

T-cells produce not only tumor necrosis factor (TNF) but also the molecule interferon gamma (IFN-γ). Until now, however, there has been little understanding about how IFN-γ really works. „We knew that IFN-γ attacks cancer cells via the tumor microenvironment,“ says Kammertöns. „We now wanted to find out exactly which cells are targeted by the signaling molecules.“

Blood vessel regression is induced

The researchers generated genetically modified mice and used a clinically relevant cancer model. This included animals in which only blood vessel cells were susceptible to the signaling molecule.

In this mouse model IFN-γ pruned back the blood vessels in the tumors, thus shutting down the supply of oxygen and nutrients and killing the tumors. The researchers were able to observe this process microscopically in living mice in fine detail. They found that the blood vessel cells alone responded to the signaling molecule. When the researchers targeted other types of cells with IFN-γ, the tumors continued their growth.

These findings provided an explanation for the molecule’s powerful properties, which were already well known. „IFN-γ is one of the most important weapons in the T-cells‘ arsenal,“ says Thomas Kammertöns.

Thomas Blankenstein, lead investigator of the study, says: „The two together — IFN-γ and tumor necrosis factor — are a powerful team. TNF bursts tumor blood vessels, thus opening up the tissue, while IFN-γ cuts off the blood supply and keeps the tumor at bay over the long term.“

Optimizing T-cell therapy

The study offered the researchers clues on how to improve T-cell therapy for solid cancer tumors. Thomas Blankenstein explains: „We want to understand exactly how T-cells target tumors. Destroying a tumor’s infrastructure is probably more effective than killing individual cancer cells.“

„Our findings are significant beyond tumor therapy,“ says Thomas Kammertöns. „Interestingly, the mechanism used by IFN-γ to eliminate solid tumors resembles the physiological regression of blood vessels during development. It also disrupts wound healing.“

„IFN-γ might also affect the formation of new blood vessels after strokes or heart attacks. That’s why we want to find out more about the molecular processes behind all of this.“


Story Source:

Materials provided by Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas Kammertoens, Christian Friese, Ainhoa Arina, Christian Idel, Dana Briesemeister, Michael Rothe, Andranik Ivanov, Anna Szymborska, Giannino Patone, Severine Kunz, Daniel Sommermeyer, Boris Engels, Matthias Leisegang, Ana Textor, Hans Joerg Fehling, Marcus Fruttiger, Michael Lohoff, Andreas Herrmann, Hua Yu, Ralph Weichselbaum, Wolfgang Uckert, Norbert Hübner, Holger Gerhardt, Dieter Beule, Hans Schreiber, Thomas Blankenstein. Tumour ischaemia by interferon-γ resembles physiological blood vessel regression. Nature, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature22311

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association. „Fighting cancer with immunotherapy: Signaling molecule causes regression of blood vessels.“ ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170426131018.htm>

Quelle: Fighting cancer with immunotherapy: Signaling molecule causes regression of blood vessels

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Autor: monica boersch

Vor ein paar Jahre bin ich an Krebs erkrankt, bedingt durch meine Wertheim OP, Bestrahlung und Afterloading habe ich Lymphödeme bekommen, für mich sehr überraschend da ein paar Jahre dazwischen lagen, ich wusste das etwas nicht stimmt aber leider konnten unzählige Ärzte nicht helfen. Hier ist es auch so, wie in viele viele andere Länder auch, dass Lymphatische Erkrankungen erstens nicht wirklich ernst genommen werden und zweitens das kaum ein Arzt darüber Bescheid weiß, wie den auch, wenn in den Lehrbüchern so gut wie NICHTS steht. Mein Bestreben ist alles zu tun was in meiner Macht steht um dafür zu sorgen das jeder der betroffen ist weiß was er/ sie tun kann um sein Leben wieder so gestalten zu können wie er/sie das möchte. . Ich suche und suche immer weiter nach alternativ Möglichkeiten um meinen Leben so normal wie möglich zu gestalten. Die Empfehlungen die ich gebe sind bei mir durchaus wirksam und ich erziele gute Erfolge und behalte meine Lebensqualität. Mein Blog ist kein Ersatz für eine Ärztliche Betreuung und ich empfehle jeden mit seinem Arzt über Therapie Möglichkeiten etc. zu sprechen. Ich kann nur anregen und durch meine eigene, persönliche Erfahrung eventuell einen weg aufzeigen. Seit 2009 beschäftige ich mich weit über das übliche hinaus mit Lymphödeme. Nicht nur die „Diagnose“ interessiert mich, sondern ebenso was für einen Effekt es hat auf unser Sozialleben und unser Selbstwertgefühl. Ich habe viel Zeit und Geld investiert in andere Länder zu reisen um alternativen kennenzulernen, ich war bei Internationale Firmen als Gast um zu sehen welche Lösungen geboten werden, habe fast jeden Lymphologischen Kongress besucht um mich weiter zu bilden und einige Projekte als Freelancer machen können. Wie ihr sieht ist das weitaus mehr als nur ein Blog, es müssen sich grundliegende Dinge verändern um uns alle das zu geben was wir verdienen, Respekt, Empathie und das Bewusstsein das wir nichts Vorübergehendes haben, sondern das dieses ein Teil unseres Lebens ist und auch bleibt. After being diagnosed with Cancer and going through treatments, Wertheim operation, radiation therapy and afterloading I was suddenly hit by Lymphedema. Totally surprising since nobody even gave me a hint that this could happen. Running from one doctor to the other trying to find out what is wrong with me and why my body was changing so quickly, once again being in the situation of not having control of anything. This made me so angry that I started studying like crazy, I wanted to find out why we are left alone, why doctors don’t have a clue (sorry, most doctors) about Lymphedema and the consequences in all aspects of our lives. Sadly, I had to realize that hardly anyone knows anything about it. I started my quest to find alternatives in treatments, I traveled around the world investing my time and money, fortunate enough to spend time in companies specialized in Lymphedema treatment to learn all that I could and can. I hardly miss any Lymphatic congress, listening to the internationally known doctors, discussing what is important for us as patients. I have done some freelance work for the companies that I believe in and had the chance to work with a wonderful company in New Jersey. I have tested alternatives and I am still searching and studying because it is my quest to change things for all affected by this, not only our physical wellbeing but most importantly the impact that it has on our daily life. It’s not something that’s going to go away, it’s with us until the end and the minimum that we can expect is being taken seriously, respect and empathy for our situation and the importance for all of us that have the possibilities to change things for the better. There is so much work to do, and I am not going to give up. As you can see this is more than a blog. If you find something interesting on Lymphfantastic but you are having problems with the German, then just send me a message and I will be happy to translate that for you, my native language is English so that is no problem. Have a great day and looking forward to hearing from you soon. Bless you all, Monica

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