Scientists identify immune cells as potential target in cancer treatment

13 Jan 2024 08:00am
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
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SHANGHAI - A team of Chinese and Singaporean scientists have determined that a type of common immune cell could become an accomplice aiding cancer, and, therefore, it might be useful to target it in a potential anti-cancer therapy, reported Xinhua.

Neutrophils, the most abundant white blood cell population in the body and which serves as first responders to infection and injury and also tend to gather around tumours, are shown to support tumour growth, according to the study published on Friday in the journal Science.

Using an experimental pancreatic cancer mouse model, the researchers from Renji Hospital under Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and Singapore Immunology Network found that when infiltrated by a tumour, neutrophils are modified into a long-lived cell subset called T3.

These T3 cells become "traitors" to the body by promoting the growth of new blood vessels, which help the tumour survive in areas with low oxygen and limited nutrients.

Depleting T3 cells or weakening their ability to function can inhibit tumour growth, according to the study.

"This discovery can be used to develop immunotherapeutic strategies targeting neutrophils, which can inhibit their tumour-promoting effects while retaining their basic immune functions by intervening in their pathological reprogramming process," said Zhang Zemin, a professor of Peking University, who was not involved in the study. - BERNAMA-XINHUA

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