Penn study reveals secrets of 'hot' and 'cold' pancreatic cancer tumors
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IMAGE: This is a ‘hot’ T cell high tumor. view more 

Credit: Ben Stanger, Katelyn Byrne, Perelman School of Medicine

PHILADELPHIA – So-called “hot” tumors filled with T cells are often considered to be more sensitive to immunotherapy compared to “cold” tumors with fewer T cells, but a clear demonstration of why has eluded cancer biologists–until now. A team from Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) discovered that whether a tumor is hot or cold is determined by information embedded in the cancer cells themselves. In a new study published this week in Immunity, researchers probe the role of “tumor heterogeneity,” a cancer cells’ ability to move, replicate, metastasize, and respond to treatment. These new findings could help oncologists more precisely tailor treatments to a patient’s unique tumor composition.

Recent studies from Penn Medicine and other institutions have suggested that the degree to which T cells are attracted to a tumor is regulated by genes specific to that tumor. “There is no disputing that targeting immune cells has led to promising outcomes for many cancer patients, but not every person responds to these types of treatments,” said senior author Ben Stanger, MD, PhD, a professor of Gastroenterology and Cell

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