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Jefferson scientists find protein helps pancreatic cancer cells evade immune system and spread
Date:1/10/2008

on in T-cells, putting them in a resting state, and recruits a different type of immune cell called T-regulatory cells, which can inhibit the immune system. If cells are escaping the primary tumor and going into another environment such as the lymph nodes, what are they doing to evade detection by the immune system? says Dr. Brody. These data point to the fact that IDO may play a role in helping cancer cells avoid the immune system. His team reported its findings at the recent meeting of the Southern Surgical Association in Hot Springs, VA. The results have been accepted for publication in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

The group also examined pancreatic cancer cell lines in the laboratory for IDO expression. Using antibodies to IDO, they didnt find any IDO expression until they treated the cells with interferon to mimic the conditions in the lymph nodes. The tumor cells were then able to make the enzyme.

Whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes can affect a patients prognosis, particularly after surgery. While scientists know a great deal about how a pancreatic cancer develops from a pre-cancerous growth into a cancer, they still dont have a clear understanding of how it progresses from a primary cancer to metastatic disease. IDO, Dr. Brody says, may play an important part in the process.

The immune system appears to have a balance that can allow cancer cells to grow but also can detect and destroy them, Brody explains. While IDO is crucial to regulating this balance, too much IDO tips the balance toward an immune suppression, supporting cancer growth.

Dr. Brody notes that IDO inhibitors are available clinically, and these could in theory be used with chemotherapy or perhaps other forms of immune therapy against pancreatic cancer. An inhibitor might be able to activate T-cells to kill cancer cells, for example. Presumably we could give IDO inhibitors up front to patients who we know are lymph nod
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Contact: Steve Benowitz
steven.benowitz@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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