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Immune cells might lead to new cancer vaccine: Study


Nepalnews
2021 Dec 12, 16:13, Connecticut
Representative Image (photo via ANI)

A new study by Yale University has identified crucial ways that immune system cells congregate and communicate with each other to identify and eradicate tumours.

The research has been published in the 'Cell Journal'.

These findings might pave the way for new vaccines that may help increase survival rates in several forms of cancer.

In recent years, scientists have found that patients who are most likely to survive lung cancer often develop lymph node-like structures around tumours. And like lymph nodes, these structures produce a host of immune system cells such as CD4 helper T cells, which identify tumours; B cells, which produce antibodies against cancer; and CD8 killer T cells, which can attack cancer cells.

"The field has been trying to figure out how these mini-immune systems are set up in the tumour micro-environment and why do they correlate to great outcomes," said Nikhil Joshi, assistant professor of immunobiology and co-senior author of the paper.

It turned out that these immune system cells communicate with each other.

For the study, a team led by Joshi, Can Cui, a PhD student and physician at Yale School of Medicine, and Joseph Craft, the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine (rheumatology) and professor of immunobiology, analyzed tumour genetics of cancer survivors and then created mouse models with genetic characteristics similar to those survivors.

Their analysis found that B cells actually do more than simply make antibodies against cancer. In order to also unleash a robust response by CD8 killer T cells, the B cells must first interact with CD4 helper T cells in order to identify tumours to target.

"T cells and B cells need to talk to each other before tumours can be targeted," Craft said.

Several cancer vaccines were already under development designed to spur the production of T cells which had taken up residence around several types of cancer, including melanoma and glioblastomas, as well as lung cancer. In fact, both BioNTech and Moderna -- which during the COVID-19 pandemic helped develop vaccines to help the human body identify and fight the virus -- were initially formed in part to develop cancer vaccines.

"The model is already in place," Joshi said.

Cui suggested that future cancer vaccines may be more effective if they can jumpstart both antibody-producing B cells and helper T cells to bolster a broader immune system response.

Such vaccines could be used in conjunction with traditional immunotherapy treatments to increase survival rates of patients with several forms of cancer, the researchers said.

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