Forcing the Immune System to Attack Cancer

Cancer cells are not normal cells. UChicago Medicine was the first institution in the country to offer the FDA-approved treatment for both children and adults. A member of the IFN cytokine family, IFN- 2b, and pegylated IFN-α2b (Sylatron) were approved by FDA for treatment as adjuvant therapy in resected melanoma patients [66].

Former president Jimmy Carter is a good example — the melanoma that spread to his brain essentially disappeared after treatment with Keytruda. This is because cancer cells consist of the patient’s own DNA, which the body’s immune system recognizes as natural. It’s a mystery how a growing tumor escapes destruction by the immune system.

  • Notably, it is this escape of cancer cells from immunity and the mechanisms involved in this escape that has been the driving force of investigations focused on the immune-oncology paradigm.
  • Still, there are reasons your immune system could be weakened.
  • In lab tests, the nanoparticles were able to cling to PD-L1 just as strongly as others, inhibiting the cancer’s ability to hide from T cells by about 50 percent.

In the equilibrium phase, the immune system may eventually eliminate all tumour cells leading to an outcome similar to the elimination phase. This aberrant or reduced MHC class I expression leads to activation of NK cells via activating receptors present on NK cell surface such as NKG2D which bind to surface glycoproteins known as MICA/B that may be present on the tumors [37]. A decade’s research by Chen and colleagues at other institutions found that the interactions of certain proteins and receptors allow tumor cells to disable T cells, the immune system’s main fighters. The core problem has been enabling each patient’s internal anti-cancer tools, especially specific sets of T cells, to slip over the border and into the tumor. In military terms, the immune system has two divisions: This can be attributed to various factors that distinguish individual patients such as age, gender, chemotherapy regimen, and site/type of cancer, all of which play a functional role in cancer genomics and serve as the fundamentals for precision medicine [56].

If the T cells find something wrong with a cell, they’ll kill it and also remember it so they can kill it again if they come across the same kind of infected cell in the future.

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Our immune system is capable of recognizing potentially harmful pathogens by the means of antigens. Posttranscriptional control of T cell effector function by aerobic glycolysis. USA 105, 8215–8220 (2020). In contrast to the adaptive immunity’s antigen-specific T cell responses, the innate system is relatively nonspecific and can provide a rapid response. Sugar drops your immune system by 75%, sleep is our body’s way of recharging for the next go-round. The membrane-restricted MICB provided protective immunity and prevented spontaneous tumorigenesis, while the shed/soluble form facilitated tumor progression. Although it has its compelling aspects, the immunosurveillance theory remains just a theory, and a controversial one at that. Notably, Th2 cells produce interleukins 4, 5, 10, 13, and 31 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, and IL-31) and regulate immune responses involving extracellular pathogens as well as allergic diseases [29].

Tests on tumor samples from the recent trial revealed that tumors that did not express PD-L1 did not respond to treatment, while 36 percent of PD-L1-positive tumors showed a response. This revolution in cancer treatment is driven by immunotherapy: Recombinant human G-CSF can bind to its corresponding receptors on neutrophil progenitor cells to stimulate neutrophil differentiation and maturation [67]. Checkpoint antibodies use the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells. That patient was one of a growing number of fast-progressing cancer cases that point to a dark side of so-called checkpoint inhibitors.

  • Keap1 loss promotes Kras-driven lung cancer and results in dependence on glutaminolysis.
  • Immune cells, known as natural killer cells, begin to destroy the invaders with a general attack.
  • These data indicate that organ-specific immune responses determine the permissiveness of a certain metastatic niche [97].


It is a collection of reactions and responses that the body makes to damaged cells or infection. This is why you usually only get some infectious diseases, such as measles or chicken pox, once. These results suggest that concomitant tumor immunity can prevent growth of secondary tumors, even if they are only weakly immunogenic, as long as Treg activity is inhibited [46]. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of late-stage melanoma.

23, 741–755 (2020).

About Cancer Research

Finally, the authors injected lymphoma cells into immune-compromised mice, then added the cancer-killing T cells. Much research has been devoted to developing effective immunotherapies against cancer. Sugar suppresses the immune system, medzhitov force-fed mice who were suffering from food-poisoning due to the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and the mice died. But these results, which uncover a complete pathway of communication between tumors and macrophages, lay the foundation for a promising avenue of research. Harnessing T cells T cells are a type of white blood cell that fight infection and cancer and can live for 50 years in the human body.


Fatty acid oxidation and carnitine palmitoyltransferase I: This treatment brings together tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) with a dendritic cell vaccine to fight malignant melanoma. A Japanese study published in 2020 measured the resting NK cell response to a single cancer cell line in over 3,500 healthy people on a single day of their life, and then followed them all for over 11 years. These metastatic cancer cells secrete enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases that degrade extracellular matrix proteins and utilize chemotaxis to enable them to migrate to other locations.

Nonetheless, as cancer cells disseminate early in cancer progression, the risk of this approach would be that already circulating metastatic cancer cells would be protected by circulating Tregs and form metastases more readily. How could it possibly be responsible for the cancer cells being recognized as distinct? Change the normal cells around the tumor so they interfere with how the immune system responds to the cancer cells. Keeping your immune system healthy is a way to keep the flu bug away. Each type of cell plays an important role in identifying, marking, and destroying harmful cells that enter or develop in the body. Within each division are regiments of different cells that perform specific immune functions.

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Concerns first arose in late 2020 when researchers at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris coined the term hyperprogression to describe 12 of 131 cancer patients whose tumor growth rate doubled within 3 months of anti–PD-1 treatment. In a second scenario, the constant interaction of the immune system with tumours over a long period of time may actually “edit” or sculpt the phenotype of the developing tumour, resulting in the immunoselection of a tumour that has been shaped into a less-immunogenic state. From the early days of HIV infection, we saw that patients with a fundamentally damaged adaptive immune system were still protected by their innate immune system and only succumbed to some intracellular bacterial infections and rare tumors. Health risks of smoking tobacco, the effects of N-acetylcysteine and glutathione on smoke-induced changes in lung phagocytes and epithelial cells. The immune system is important to cancer patients in many ways because: Science 355, 1428–1433 (2020).