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

lating a therapeutic immune response against pancreas tumors because they have identified few molecular targets on which to focus the immune attack.

But as the new findings in a mouse model show, pancreas tumors fly under the radar not because they lack targets for the immune system, but because they recruit suppressor cells that keep immune cells at bay. When these immune suppressor cells are removed, helpful immune cells spontaneously move into the tumor and begin their attack.

Activating a T-cell response against the cancer

Pancreas cancer is nearly always diagnosed at very late stages, which has made its development hard to study. To gain insight into these aggressive tumors, Hingorani's team pioneered the development of a genetic mouse model of pancreas cancer. Previous work in the model led to their discovery of an enzyme that can make pancreas tumors more permeable to chemotherapy. The group turned again to this model to learn more about how pancreas tumors interact with the immune system.

From their earlier work, Hingorani's team knew that several different types of immunosuppressive cells infiltrate pancreas tumors. Together with immunologist Philip Greenberg, M.D., a member of Fred Hutch's Clinical Research Division, they have begun studying ways to target these inhibitory cells. As Ingunn Stromnes, Ph.D., the postdoctoral researcher co-mentored by Hingorani and Greenberg who spearheaded this latest study, watched pancreas tumors develop in mice, she saw that one cell type stood out. Descended from bone marrow cells and dubbed granulocyte-myeloid-derived suppressor cells (Gr-MDSCs), these cells jumped in number as pancreas tumors turned invasive. Stromnes discovered the pancreas tumors were orchestrating the accumulation of these suppressor cells by releasing a protein known as granulocyte macrophage colony-stimul
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
media@fredhutch.org
206-667-2210
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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