Williams Cancer Institute


Natural killer (NK) cells, which are a type of immune cells, have been found to limit metastasis by inducing the death of cancer cells, although metastasis continues in patients anyway, i.e., they keep escaping to other parts of the body.

Scientists continue to analyze the interactions between NK cells and invading breast cancer cells in their labs and have discovered that metastatic breast cancer cells can reprogram NK cells so that they stop killing cancer cells and instead place, help in metastasis.

Metastatic disease is the main cause of death from breast cancer, so it is necessary to know how and why this occurs in our body. The right way would be to prevent or reverse the reprogramming of natural killer cells in patients, it could be a new way to stop metastasis and reduce mortality from breast cancer”.

These studies have shown that NK cells selectively target the cells that initiate the metastatic process and how cancer cells trick the immune system into helping them,” says Ewald, lead author of the study, and co-director of the Cancer Invasion Program. and Metastasis at the Johns Hopkins University Kimmel Cancer Center and professor of cell biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee is deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center; Co-Director, Skip Viragh Center for Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Research and Patient Care; associate director, Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and the Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professor of Oncology.

Using molecular profiling and computational analyzes developed by Dr. Joel Bader, professor of biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences and Institute for Genetic Medicine, and Hildur Knútsdóttir, a fellow in the laboratory of Bader, Ewald said they were able to map every suspected molecular interaction between immune cells and cancer cells – and identify the ones that likely regulate this communication.

“As predicted, when we blocked these inhibitory signals, the NK cells continued to be the ‘good guys’ and continued to clean up the cancer cells,” says Ewald. “We are excited that this approach could be used to prevent metastasis formation, and we are also testing whether this approach could be used to reactivate an immune response to an existing metastasis.”

The researchers say the process could also be applied to other types of cancer.

Immunotherapies that target NK cells could also potentially be used alongside existing immunotherapies that stimulate T cells to fight cancer.

Reference:Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020, 13 julio, Las células del cáncer de mama pueden reprogramar las células inmunes para ayudar en la metástasis, https://ecancer.org/es/news/18166-las-celulas-del-cancer-de-mama-pueden-reprogramar-las-celulas-inmunes-para-ayudar-en-la-metastasis

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