Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Two-faced' cells discovered in colon cancer

Date:
December 13, 2012
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
A "two-faced" group of cells at work in human colon cancer can either suppress or promote tumor growth. These cells are a subset of T-regulatory (Treg) cells, known to suppress immune responses in healthy people. The discovery of Treg diversity in cancer and its role in control of cancer inflammation may lead to new approaches for therapeutics.

Northwestern Medicine researchers have discovered a "two-faced" group of cells at work in human colon cancer, with opposing functions that can suppress or promote tumor growth. These cells are a subset of T-regulatory (Treg) cells, known to suppress immune responses in healthy individuals

In this previously unknown Treg subset, the presence of the protein RORγt has been shown to differentiate between cancer-protecting and cancer-promoting properties.

The Northwestern team, led by Khashayarsha Khazaie, research associate professor at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, recently reported their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"The subset of Tregs that expand in human colon cancer is different from the Tregs that abound in healthy individuals in their ability to suppress inflammation," said Khazaie. "Since their discovery, Tregs have been assumed to be harmful in cancer based on the knowledge that they suppress immunity. More recent clinical studies have challenged this notion. Our work shows that Tregs, by suppressing inflammation, are normally very protective in cancer; it is rather their switch to the expression of RORγt that is detrimental."

The Northwestern team's work builds on observations, which demonstrated that the transfer of Tregs from healthy mice to mice with colitis or colitis-induced cancer actually protected the mice from colitis and colitis-induced cancer.

After identifying the abnormal Treg subset in mice with hereditary colon cancer, Khazaie and lead author Nichole Blatner, research assistant professor at Lurie Cancer Center, worked with Mary Mulcahy, MD, associate professor of hematology and oncology, radiology, and organ transplantation, and David Bentrem, MD, Harold L. and Margaret N. Method Research Professor in Surgery, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, to look for the same cells in colon cancer patients.

"To our delight, we found the same Treg alterations in cancer patients," said Khazaie.

Of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. In 2012, approximately 140,000 Americans were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, while more than 50,000 deaths occurred from either cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"The significance of our discovery became apparent when by inhibiting RORgt in Tregs we were able to protect mice against hereditary colon cancer," Khazaie said.

He notes that several ongoing clinical trials exist based on targeted elimination of all Tregs in cancer patients. However, the discovery of Treg diversity in cancer, and its central role in control of cancer inflammation, may lead to new approaches for therapeutics.

"Tregs are actually very useful in the fight against cancer," he says. "We can do better by targeting RORγt or other molecules that are responsible for the expansion of this Treg subset, instead of indiscriminately eliminating all Tregs. We are very excited about the therapeutic options that targeting specific subsets of Tregs could provide in human solid tumor cancers, and that is our next immediate goal."

Khazaie's team is moving forward with plans to test novel drugs that inhibit RORγt.

This research was made possible by philanthropic support through the Lurie Cancer Center and Steven Rosen, MD, director of the Lurie Cancer Center and the Genevieve E. Teuton Professor of Medicine at the Feinberg School.

In addition to Northwestern University researchers, Khazaie and Blatner collaborated with Fotini Gounari, University of Chicago, and Christophe Benoist, Harvard Medical School, on this discovery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. R. Blatner, M. F. Mulcahy, K. L. Dennis, D. Scholtens, D. J. Bentrem, J. D. Phillips, S. Ham, B. P. Sandall, M. W. Khan, D. M. Mahvi, A. L. Halverson, S. J. Stryker, A.-M. Boller, A. Singal, R. K. Sneed, B. Sarraj, M. J. Ansari, M. Oft, Y. Iwakura, L. Zhou, A. Bonertz, P. Beckhove, F. Gounari, K. Khazaie. Expression of RORγt Marks a Pathogenic Regulatory T Cell Subset in Human Colon Cancer. Science Translational Medicine, 2012; 4 (164): 164ra159 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004566

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "'Two-faced' cells discovered in colon cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142315.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2012, December 13). 'Two-faced' cells discovered in colon cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142315.htm
Northwestern University. "'Two-faced' cells discovered in colon cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142315.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins