This news release is available in German.
Just like healthy cells, tumour cells need nutrients and oxygen in order to survive. For this reason, a tumour of a certain size has to ensure that it is connected to the blood circulation. In doing this, it is supported by cells of the innate immune system, the neutrophil granulocytes or brief neutrophils, which are supposed to protect the body against pathogens.
Neutrophils normally circulate in the blood untilattracted by so-called chemokinesthey enter the tissue where they ingest and destroy intruding pathogens. In addition, these cells are able to trigger the formation of blood vessels. Presumably, this is how they help to repair tissue which has been destroyed by inflammation. However, neutrophils are also able to enter cancer tissue and contribute to its connection to the blood supply. This is probably the reason why detection of numerous neutrophils in a tumour is a sign of unfavourable patient prognosis.
Interferon-beta (IFN-beta) is used as a treatment for some tumours such as melanomas and leukaemia. Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, had shown recently that this messenger molecule can interfere with cancer growth by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels. However, the way it does so remained a puzzle.
Now, researchers have succeeded in revealing the effect of IFN-beta on migration of pro-tumour neutrophils. "We wanted to understand why IFN-beta prevents the neutrophils from entering the tumour," says Dr Jadwiga Jablonska-Koch, scientist in the "Molecular Immunology" department at the HZI. "This would be the way for physicians to improve existing therapies and choose appropriate treatment for the individual patient."
To this end, the
|Contact: Birgit Manno|
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research