Removing the enablers: Reducing number of tumor-supporting cells to fight neuroblastoma
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IMAGE: Neuroblastoma cells photographed through a confocal microscope. view more 

Credit: Valeria Solari, MD, MRCS; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Investigators at the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provide preclinical evidence that the presence of tumor-associated macrophages–a type of immune cell–can negatively affect the response to chemotherapy against neuroblastoma. Macrophage survival is supported by colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1). Using a small molecule inhibitor of CSF-1 named BLZ945, in combination with chemotherapy, investigators significantly reduced the number of macrophages within neuroblastoma tumors and improved the efficacy of chemotherapy in T cell deficient mice. These findings suggest the possibility that this combination therapy might be effective in patients with high-risk disease, even those who have limited anti-tumor T cell responses. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid tumor effecting children, and individuals with high-risk disease have a mortality rate of approximately 50 percent. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are a type of immune cell in tumors that is known to promote cancer growth. In neuroblastoma, the presence of TAMs is an important predictor of poor outcomes for patients with high-risk disease.

While T cells are critical to

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