Cancer Research: Colorectal cancer ulcers undergo brainwashing immunotherapy

Somehow the cancer cells manage that the attacking immune cells not only stop their attacks, but even support the tumors in their growth. For this purpose, the immune cells are practically reprogrammed, reports the Charité.Certain fatty acids play a significant role, according to the experts. How exactly the effects are generated, will now be explored in a new research project at the Charité.The project is supported by the German Cancer Aid.

In colon cancer, certain immune cells are reprogrammed by the cancer cells and then serve exclusively the tumors.(Image: psdesign1 /

MDSC responsible for the regulation of the immune response
The reprogramming by the cancer cells, according to the Berlin researchers, aims at the so-called MDSC cells( myeloid-derived suppressor cells) of the immune system. These cells, which are very rare in a healthy organism, regulate the immune response and prevent too strong a defense reaction of the body. Such excessive immune responses, in turn, can be detrimental to the organism. In addition, the MDSC also help repair damaged tissue.

Reprogrammed Cells Protect the Tumors
It is already known that in colon cancer, large amounts of MDSC cells in blood and tissues suddenly accumulate and are attracted to the tumor by secreted messenger substances. The MDSC migrate into the tumor and leave it again -.but in a different form."From now on, the MDSC cells only work for the tumor. They protect him from the immune system, promote its growth and are therefore directly involved in the fact that the cancer can spread in the body, "report the experts of the Charité.

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    Fatty Acid Causes Brainwashing in Immune Cells
    Britta Siegmund and dr. Rainer Glauben from the Department of Gastroenterology, Infectious Diseases and Rheumatology at the Charité investigate what exactly happens to the MDSC cells inside a tumor."We know that the cancer cells can change their metabolism. They produce certain fatty acids that are taken up by the MDSC cells that migrate into the tumor, "explains Prof. Glauben. These fatty acids would make immune cells henchmen of the tumor. The researchers have already succeeded in reprogramming MDSC cells in the test tube by adding certain fatty acids.

    alteration of MDSC cells preventable?
    So far it is unclear to what extent the laboratory results can be transferred into the clinical everyday life."What types of fatty acids occur in which tumor is still largely unexplored," says Prof. Siegmund. The researchers are therefore addressing this question in their current study."We first need to understand which of these fatty acids alter the MDSC cells. Then we can look for ways to block the metabolic pathway responsible for the production of these fatty acids and thus prevent the MDSC cells from changing ";the scientists report.

    Obesity causes a large increase in the number of MDSC cells
    Although there is no direct link between an unhealthy diet and the pathological change in the fatty acid metabolism of colon cancer cells. But "medically, being overweight is nothing but a chronic inflammation of the body. Here, too, those affected have a greatly increased number of MDSC cells in the body - ideal conditions for a tumor to spread, "reports Prof. Siegmund. The chairman of the German Cancer Aid Foundation, Gerd Nettekoven, explains that he hopes this project will also provide new strategies for the treatment of colorectal cancer."Promoting innovative research projects that have a high potential for quickly integrating their findings into everyday clinical practice is a core concern of the German Cancer Aid," says Nettekoven.(fp)

Cancer cells can reprogram the immune cells
In the case of cancer, the natural defense reactions fail and the degenerated cells can therefore multiply unhindered. The tumors escape the immune system by attracting and reprogramming attacking immune cells, reports the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. In a research project funded by the German Cancer Aid( 185,000 euros), scientists at the Charité are now investigating what exactly happens inside the tumors in colorectal cancer.

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