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How immune cells destroy cancer cells - MDC researchers elucidate mechanism
Date:1/17/2012

In the treatment of large tumors, how effective is adoptive T cell therapy in comparison to drug-based cancer treatment? To answer this question, Dr. Kathleen Anders and Professor Thomas Blankenstein of the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and researchers of the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California, USA designed and carried out a study comparing the two methods. Based on a mouse cancer model, the researchers elucidated the mechanisms of the two different treatments. The researchers showed that both forms of therapy are highly effective against large tumors. However, the T cells not only kill cancer cells they additionally destroy the tumor blood vessel system, thus impeding the supply of nutrients to the tumor. Consequently, quasi as a side effect, "escapee" mutant tumor cells are eradicated that have become resistant to drug-based treatment and are responsible for tumor recurrence. The researchers hope that their insights in defining optimal conditions for T cell therapy may help improve future clinical trials and thus the treatment of cancer patients (Cancer Cell, doi10.1016/j.ccr.2011.10.019)*.

The researchers transplanted tumor cells into mice that express SV40 large T antigen (Tag), the oncogene that is critical for tumor growth. The researchers were thus able to target and inactivate the oncogene using the antibiotic drug doxycycline (dox), which has an effect similar to modern drugs currently in clinical use. Since the oncogene is also present as antigen on the surface of the tumor cells, the researchers were also able to target these tumors with oncogene-specific T cells. Thus, for the first time the effect of the two completely different therapy approaches could be compared directly with each other.

Moreover, a special feature of the study was that the tumors in the mice were large bigger than one centimeter and containing about one billion cancer cells
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Contact: bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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