Tricky Tumors

Study shows how they evade immune system

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FRIDAY, March 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- New insight into how cancer cells evade the body's tumor-fighting immune cells is reported in a study in the March issue of Cancer Cell.

Researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina found that mouse and human melanoma cells secrete a molecule called galectin-1 (Gal-1), which has a negative impact on the survival of immune system T-cells.

The study also found that inhibition of Gal-1 dramatically reduces tumor formation in mice. Gal-1 is present in many different types of tumors, especially aggressive cancers such as prostate, colon and ovarian cancers and melanoma.

The study findings may help scientists develop more effective anticancer therapies.

"Our results show that Gal-1 contributes to immune privilege of tumors by modulating survival and/or polarization of effector T-cells, providing the first concrete evidence of a link between the immunoregulatory properties of this protein and its contribution to tumor progression," researcher Dr. Gabriel A. Rabinovich says in a prepared statement.

"More importantly, our data highlight a novel molecular target for manipulation of T-cell tolerance and cell death with profound implications for cancer immunotherapy," Rabinovich says.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about the immune system.

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, March 22, 2004

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