For long scientists may have gone through unsuccessful attempts of controlling the immune system and treating cancerous tumors. Investigators from the University of Cambridge suggest that a type of stromal cell noted in many cancers restricts the use of vaccines and other therapies. It was determined that this form of stromal cell expressing fibroblast activation protein alpha (FAP) is a hallmark in curbing the immune response in cancerous tumors.
When the cells are destroyed a tumor immune suppression may be relieved and immune system can regulate the previously uncontrolled tumor. Till date the vaccines introduced for alerting the immune system to attack cancerous cells in tumors have presumably activated an immune response in the body but, inexplicably, almost never affected the growth of tumors. It has been suspected that within the tumor microenvironment the activity of immune cells is suppressed though not completely. It was discovered that at least one immune suppressive component is contained within normal tissue cells known as stromal cells and that the cancer has coerced to assist its survival. The examined cancer seems to express a novel protein linked with wound healing FAP.
Professor Douglas Fearon, Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, shared, “These studies are in the mouse, and although there is much overlap between the mouse and human immune systems, we will not know the relevance of these findings in humans until we are able to interrupt the function of the tumour stromal cells expressing FAP in patients with cancer. It should be noted, however, that the FAP-expressing stromal cell was actually first found in human cancer by Lloyd Old and his colleagues 20 years ago.”
Presumably, various cancer including breast and colorectal cancers have the presence of FAP expressing cells. A transgenic mouse model was put to use for analyzing whether FAP expressing stromal cells play a role in resistance of a tumor to vaccination. Researchers claim to have destroyed the FAP expressing cells in tumors of mice with established Lewis lung carcinomas. Among the total number of tumors only 2 percent may be FAP-expressing and the cancer began to rapidly ‘die’. Additional investigations will be triggered for evaluating the way cells exert their effects and boost immunological therapies to remove a barrier constructed by the cancer.
The research was published in the journal Science.