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Case Western Reserve receives $1.6M to study tumor cells and immune cell detection
Date:3/31/2011

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study how tumor cells avoid detection by the body's immune system, allowing cancer to develop and spread.

The five-year National Institutes of Health grant will enable researchers led by Alex Y. Huang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, pathology, and biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine, and a hematologist and oncologist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, to examine "immune tolerance." The process keeps tumor cells from being detected by the immune system, even when they invade draining lymph nodes, a place where primary immune activation and surveillance take place. Lymph nodes are part of the body's lymphatic system, which fights off viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing agents.

The study will also test whether modifying the environment in which tumor and immune cell interactions take place, using a group of proteins called inflammatory chemokines, will activate unresponsive immune cells into fighting off cancer. Using inflammatory chemokines as part of the anti-tumor strategies is a novel approach to cancer treatment.

"This research will provide greater insight into the potential therapeutic utilities of inflammatory chemokines, thereby providing a new direction for the development of immunotherapies that are capable of fighting cancer at the most basic cellular level," Dr. Huang says, who is also an associate member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at the School of Medicine and director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "Any effective cellular immunotherapy must enhance long-term tumor immunity, effectively concentrating immune cells and priming them to destroy cancer cells anywhere in the body over long periods of time."

Researchers will work to
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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