Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Time and Space

Presence of certain immune cells in the microenvironment around an aggressive type of pancreatic tumour as predictors of survival

19 February 2023

Time and Space

Originating in the cells lining the pancreatic ducts, small tubes transporting digestive juices, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer, and highly aggressive. Clues for tackling it may lie within the tumour microenvironment, compounds and tissues surrounding cancerous cells, and especially nearby immune cells. Mapping the microenvironment of tumours removed from PDAC patients reveals correlations between the spatial arrangement of different immune cell types and survival. In patients who died earlier than median life expectancy post-diagnosis, immune cells called IL-10+ myelomonocytes (pictured in green, alongside pancreatic cancer cells in red) tended to cluster near cytotoxic T lymphocytes, potentially dampening their anti-cancer activity, while greater survival was associated with finding myelomonocytes closer to other immune cells, known as activated helper T cells. Hinting at complex interactions between PDAC and the immune system, these findings could enable more accurate prognoses for PDAC patients, and inspire future treatments.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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