New Delhi: Myeloid immune cells can kill cancer cells by eating them but cancer cells prevent this from happening by giving out a ‘do not eat me’ signal.
Now researchers from various research institutes led by immunologists, Ton Schumacher (Netherlands Cancer Institute and Oncode) and Ferenc Scheeren (Leiden University Medical Center), have discovered a new method to inhibit the ‘don’t eat me’ signal, and have therefore found a new target for immunotherapy.
The “don’t eat me” signal
Different types of immune cells have different strategies to fight cancer cells. For example, some immune cells—myeloid cells—kill cancer cells by eating them. Cancer cells can prevent this by expressing proteins on their surfaces which give out inhibiting signals to the immune cells. One example is the ‘don’t eat me’ signal, officially called CD47, which ensures that the cancer cell stays alive.
Researchers around the world are now looking for medicines to block this “don’t eat me” signal. One method for doing so is to intervene on the surface of the cell, by covering the CD47 molecules on cancer cells with a specific antibody.
On 4 March 2019, the researchers published an article on this topic in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.