Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Neutralise the Niche

Immune cells identified in the tumour microenvironment that protect cancer cells from other anti-tumour immune cells

06 October 2021

Neutralise the Niche

Patients being treated for intestinal tumours can be devastated to discover that their cancer has returned. To tackle the problem of drug resistance scientists are investigating a group of non-cancer cells, collectively called a niche, surrounding treatment-resistant tumours cells. In the niche, researchers have identified some immune cells which are normally involved in inflammation. These act as a shield, protecting the tumour from another type of immune cell called killer T-cells that can eradicate cancer cells. The images show intestinal cancer cells (stained blue) grown in 3D lab culture. The bubbles represent niches while the red and green stains represent the inflammatory immune cells. On the left the cultures are untreated whereas on the right they're treated with drugs targeting the inflammatory immune cells. These drugs results in fewer tumour niches both in culture and in animal models and are a focus for treatment development.

Written by Julie Webb

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