IRB Barcelona paves the way to the use of immunotherapy to treat aggressive colon tumors
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IMAGE: Image A shows a metastatic tumor neglected by the immune system. Image B is taken after the inhibition of TGF-beta (Galunisertib), leading to the infiltration of many immune cells (in… view more 

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Credit: (Author: Daniele Tauriello, IRB Barcelona)

Barcelona, Wed. Feb. 14, 2018.- In a short space of time, immunotherapy, that is to say therapies based on stimulating the immune system against cancer cells, has become a powerful approach to treat cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, to date, most colon tumours appeared to be unresponsive to this kind of therapy. Given this observation, it was hypothesized that this kind of tumour was simply invisible to the immune system. In a study published today in the journal Nature, a team headed by ICREA researcher Eduard Batlle, at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), explains that the hormone TGF-beta is responsible for the “blindness” of the immune system to colon cancer cells.

“The few clinical immunotherapy trials done in patients with the most common subtype of colon cancer were not giving good results and we didn’t understand why this was happening,” explains Eduard Batlle.

By inhibiting the activity of TGF-beta, the cells of the immune system infiltrate and recognise the

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