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Dismantling pancreas cancer's armor
Date:2/20/2014

SEATTLE Pancreas cancer is notoriously impervious to treatment and resists both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It has also been thought to provide few targets for immune cells, allowing tumors to grow unchecked. But new research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows that pancreas cancer "veils" itself from the immune system by recruiting specialized immune suppressor cells. The research team also found that removing these cells quickly triggers a spontaneous anti-tumor immune response.

The findings, published Feb. 20 in Gut, give hope for future immunotherapy strategies against this deadly and aggressive cancer.

"The take-home message is that there is a latent immune response against pancreas cancer that can be expressed if we remove its obstacles," said Sunil Hingorani, M.D., Ph.D., an associate member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch, who led the study. "Removing the suppressor cells creates a context that could enable an adoptive immune cell therapy against pancreas cancer."

An almost uniformly deadly cancer

Pancreas cancer is almost uniformly deadly. About 45,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. each year. "The mortality rate is essentially the same as the incidence rate," Hingorani noted. Pancreas cancer "doesn't obey the rules" established for other solid tumors, he said: It metastasizes early, resists traditional treatment, and survives quite well on a diminished blood supply.

The tumor builds a fibrous wall around itself which exerts so much pressure that blood vessels entering the tumor are constricted, which also prevents chemotherapy from entering. In addition, scientists have historically had difficulty stimu
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
media@fredhutch.org
206-667-2210
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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