Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have shown for the first time that a gene, previously implicated in blood vessel formation during embryonic development and tumor growth, also induces immune suppression during tumor development. This finding, published online on April 29, 2015 in an open-access article in Nature Communications, opens the door for new therapeutic approaches and vaccine development in treating patients with melanoma and other advanced-staged cancers. The article is titled “Id1 Suppresses Anti-Tumor Immune Responses and Promotes Tumor Progression by Impairing Myeloid Cell Maturation.” Two decades ago, researchers discovered that a gene called Inhibitor of Differentiation 1 (Id1), which is normally expressed in the embryo, was also expressed in cancer patients and contributing to tumor progression. The present study reveals another way that Id1 works, which is by hijacking a normal pathway in immune cell development and interfering with the entire immune system, starting in the bone marrow. Without competent immune cells, the body cannot fight off tumors, and instead, cancer is allowed to grow, spread, and thrive. "Targeting Id1 offers the potential to restore overall immune function," said senior author David Lyden (image), M.D., Ph.D., the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a Professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. "When the immune system is functioning, treatment options are more plentiful.
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