March 25, 2010
Tumors Hide Out By Mimicking Lymph Nodes
EPFL study reveals importance of relation between the lymphatic system and tumors
A new mechanism explaining how tumors escape the body's natural immune surveillance has recently been discovered at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique F©d©rale de Lausanne) in Switzerland. The study shows how tumors can create a tolerant microenviroment and avoid attack by the immune system by mimicking key features of lymph nodes. The discovery, published in Science and in Science Express, online March 25, 2010, underscores the role of the lymphatic system in cancer and may open up new possibilities for cancer treatment.
Since most tumors progress only if they have escaped the immune system, this new understanding of one mechanism by which the tumor can bypasses or hides from immune defenses is an important step towards future cancer therapies. "The finding that tumors can attract naÃÂ¯ve and regulatory T cells and educate them has important implications for tumor immunotherapy," says Jacqui Shields, from LLCB. The study also opens up potential novel areas of research focusing on the relationship between lymphatic systems and cancer research. According to Shields, the concept that tumors mimic lymphoid tissue to alter the host's immune response represents a new understanding of tumors' interactions with the lymphatic system.
The laboratory is affiliated with the EPFL's Institute of Bioengineering and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research.
Authors include Jacqueline D. Shields, Iraklis C. Kourtis, Alice A. Tomei, Joanna M. Roberts, Melody A. Swartz, from the Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Image Caption: The tumor has transformed its outer layer into lymphoid-like tissue to avoid detection by the immune system. Credit: EPFL
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