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Breaking down cancer's defense for future vaccines
Date:2/23/2012

tumour.

They studied a type of tumour that expresses large amounts of VEGF-C, a molecule that is naturally expressed in humans and that stimulates lymphatic growth. Having engineered the tumour cells to express a foreign antigen, they compared the efficacy of a vaccine designed to prime T cells to kill cells carrying that antigen, either when VEGF-C was present or when its activity was blocked . With VEGF-C suppressed, the vaccine's efficacy increased and tumour growth slowed fourfold.

A weakness in cancer's defense system exploited

The researchers went on to show that the endothelial cells which line lymph vessels "scavenge" tumour-specific antigens and present them to the tumour-specific T cells in a suppressive manner. This, in turn, promotes the local deletion of those T cells. According to Prof Swartz, that means that first targeting the lymph vessels associated with a tumour could, in theory, significantly increase the efficacy of existing cancer vaccines. "It would be like removing the soldiers from around the fort before sending in your opposing army," she says. "If you disable the lymph vessels' suppressive functions, our data suggest that tumour-killing T cells would do their job a lot more effectively." Future clinical trials are needed to put that theory to the test.


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Contact: Michael Mitchell
michael.mitchell@epfl.ch
41-798-103-107
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert  

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