Study Sheds Light on Cellular Communication in the Cancer Microenvironment

by Rajshri on  January 18, 2010 at 8:56 PM Cancer News
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Dr. Johanna Joyce and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center lend new insight into the mechanism by which tumor-associated macrophages promote malignant progression, in the February 1st issue of G&D,.
Study Sheds Light on Cellular Communication in the Cancer Microenvironment
Study Sheds Light on Cellular Communication in the Cancer Microenvironment

The paper will be made available online ahead of print at www.genesdev.org.

Innate immune cells, including macrophages, comprise a large fraction of the cellular environment that infiltrates tumors - the so-called "tumor microenvironment". Tumors have a dynamic relationship with their microenvironment, communicating via secreted factors to modulate cellular growth and cancer progression.

In their upcoming G&D paper, Dr. Joyce and colleagues delineate how tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) promote tumor growth and invasion. The researchers found that macrophage cells infiltrating pancreatic, mammary and lung tumors produce high levels of the proteases cathepsin B and S (Cts B and S), which enhances tumor growth and invasion. Interestingly, the researchers discovered that increased Cts B and S activity is stimulated by the tumors, themselves - through the release of interleukin (IL)-4.

The study is highly anticipated because it provides novel and compelling evidence for the therapeutic targeting of the tumor microenvironment -- specifically TAMs -- to disrupt communication and ultimately impede cancer progression.

Dr. Joyce is optimistic that "the identification of factors that are differentially produced by conscripted cells in the tumor microenvironment provides a strategy to selectively target these cells in combination with targeting the cancer cells, an approach that could have significant therapeutic potential."



Source: Eurekalert
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