Immune cells could hold key for melanoma treatment

25 September 2014

A new study has suggested that immune cells could be responsible for drug resistance in melanoma patients, according to research published in Cancer Discovery.

Cancer Research UK scientists at the University of Manchester identified that chemical signals produced by a type of immune cell - called macrophages - also act as a survival signal for melanoma cells. When these were blocked and the macrophages were unable to create the signal - called TNF alpha - the melanoma tumours were significantly smaller and easier to treat.

Dr Claudia Wellbrock, study author and Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Manchester and member of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said the study shows that immune cells can help melanoma cells to resist treatment.

"Particularly when patients are receiving treatment, the immune cells produce more of the survival signal, which makes treatment less effective."

She added that combining standard treatment with immunotherapy could potentially provide more long-lasting and effective treatments to increase survival.

The findings could lead to new ways of treating the disease by targeting this chemical 'survival signal'.

Posted by Edward Bartel

 

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