Cancer immunotherapy might benefit from previously overlooked immune players
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IMAGE: Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules display antigens to T cells, immune cells that constantly check for infected or damaged cells. If T cells spot MHC molecules with foreign antigens or… view more 

Credit: UC San Diego Health

Cancer immunotherapy — efforts to boost a patient’s own immune system, allowing it to better fight cancer cells on its own — has shown great promise for some previously intractable cancers. Yet immunotherapy doesn’t work for everyone, for reasons that aren’t always clear. Most research and new therapies in this field have been focused on CD8+ T cells, a type of immune cell that recognizes and destroys other cells that display cancer antigens (mutated proteins that help give rise to tumors). Meanwhile, another type of immune cell, CD4+ T cells, and the molecular signals they recognize have received less attention.

Using a bioinformatics approach, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers found that CD4+ T cell’s binding partner, a molecule called MHC-II, may have even more influence on emerging tumors than MHC-I, the better known partner of CD8+ T cells.

The finding, published September 20 in Cell, may help researchers improve cancer immunotherapies and predict which patients will respond

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Article originally posted at
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