World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 every year. This day is dedicated to spreading awareness about various types of cancers and mainly focusing on early detection and its timely treatment. Lung Cancer is one of the most common cancer types across the world. Immunotherapy is one of the treatment options available for lung cancer patients. This drug treatment stimulates the immune system to attack tumors. It utilizes medicines to help the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Though this method has shown good response across some types of cancers but it has shown mixed success against lung cancer.
As Immunotherapy has had minimal success in lung cancer, MIT Researchers has conducted a new study which helps to understand why the immune system mounts lackluster response to lung cancer after treatment with immunotherapy drugs. The study was conducted on mice and they found that the bacteria naturally found in the lungs help to suppress T-cell activation in lymph nodes near the lungs. They also found that there was no presence of immune-suppressive environment in the lymph nodes near tumors. The study examined mice with tumors either in the flank or the lungs to understand why some killer T cells fail to function as intended.
In this study, the team found that T cells did interact with dendritic cells in lymph nodes and detect tumor antigens. But, due to the inhibition by regulatory T cells, these could not fully activate. Though regulatory T cells prevent the immune system from attacking cells but scientists discovered that these T cells obstruct the capability to activate killer T cells that are responsible for targeting lung cancers. They remove stimulatory proteins from the surface or dendritic cells which prevents them from turning on killer T cells activity.
The researchers are also exploring other ways to help stimulate killer T-cell response or block the signals from the commensal bacteria once they identify them.
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