Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, but many immunotherapies have had limited success in treating aggressive forms of the disease. "A deeper understanding of the immunobiology of breast cancer is critical to the success in harnessing immunotherapeutic approaches to improve breast cancer survival," said Paula Bos (photo), PhD, member of the Cancer Biology research program at he Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the VCU School of Medicine. New research findings from Dr. Bos, published online in the December 8, 2020 issue of Cell Reports, identified a type of immune cells that acts as a major driver of breast cancer growth by preventing the accumulation of a specific protein that induces anti-tumor responses. This new knowledge could be utilized for the development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches to treat the disease. The article is titled “Regulatory T Cells Support Breast Cancer Progression by Opposing IFN-γ-Dependent Functional Reprogramming of Myeloid Cells.” Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) are a special class of immune cells that possess a unique ability to suppress the function of other immune cells. This function serves to protect the organism from overreacting to certain molecules created within the body; however, in many cases it subdues the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells. Therefore, Treg cells are often abundant in solid tumors, particularly breast cancers, and are commonly associated with worse outcomes. In previous research, Dr. Bos demonstrated that targeting Treg cells in breast cancer models significantly reduced tumor growth and metastasis; however, it remained unclear on a molecular level why this tumor reduction was happening.
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