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Injecting immune stimulants turns tumors into cancer vaccine factories

Date: 15.4.2019 

Scientists at New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have made an exciting breakthrough in the realm of cancer treatment, describing a new way of supercharging the body's immune system so that it can take the upper hand and destroy tumor cells around the body.

Kredit: Jim Gathany / CDC.The technique falls under an arm of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy. In essence, this means equipping the body's natural defenses with some extra weaponry so they can better take the fight to cancer. There are a few ways to go about this, including harvesting the immune system's T cells and engineering them to more effectively recognize the predatory cancer cells, known as adoptive immunotherapy, or treating T cells with drugs to disable proteins that would otherwise neutralize their attacks, known as checkpoint blockade immunotherapy.

In what they describe as a novel approach, the researchers at Mount Sinai tried to quell cancerous cells by injecting carefully chosen immune stimulants directly into the tumor site. One of these stimulants recruits immune cells called dendritic cells, which take on the role of general of the immune system army, while another instructs those dendritic cells to command the T cells to kill off the cancer cells.

These work together to train the immune system to better recognize a tumor cell when it sees one, and take a more active role in hunting them down throughout the body and killing them off. The researchers describe this as "in situ vaccination" and say that it effectively turns a tumor into a cancer vaccine factory.





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