Our website uses cookies to improve your on-site experience. By using the website, cookies are being used as described in our Policy Document
Warning: To log in you will need to enable cookies and reload the page (Policy Document)
My ePortfolio Register   

B cells linked to immunotherapy for melanoma

Researchers at EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute and the Medical University of Vienna have found evidence that B cells might play an important role in immunotherapy for melanoma.

Currently, immunotherapy is primarily focused on T cells, but the results suggest that B cells could also provide an interesting research avenue.

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses the body's own immune system to recognise and fight the disease.

It comes in a variety of forms, including cancer vaccines, targeted antibodies or tumour-infecting viruses.

Only some cancer patients currently benefit from this kind of therapy.

In the case of melanoma, which is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer, established immunotherapies focus on T cells.

T cells play an important role in controlling and shaping the immune system and they are able to directly kill cancer cells, while also recruiting other cells into the process.

A recent study published in Nature Communications has shown that, alongside T cells, B cells play a critical role in triggering melanoma-associated inflammation.

B cells are a type of white blood cell, which can produce antibodies along with several important messenger molecules.

The researchers found that, in the case of melanoma, B cells act almost like a satnav, directing T cells to the tumour via the secretion of such distinct messenger molecules.

"Immunotherapy has transformed cancer treatment," explains Johannes Griss, Researcher at the Medical University of Vienna and EMBL-EBI.

"It unleashes T cells so they can fight cancer in a more effective way. For the first time, we found that B cells also play an important part in the process and help T cells find the tumour. The role of B cells in immunotherapy is still largely unknown, but it seems they may have more impact than previously thought."

During the study, the researchers observed that when B cells were depleted from melanoma patients, the number of T cells and other immune cells dramatically decreased within the tumours as well.

In subsequent experiments, the researchers showed that a special subtype of B cells seems to be responsible for guiding T cells and other immune cells to the tumour.

Interestingly, melanoma cells seem to force B cells to develop into this distinct B cell subtype.

Most excitingly, this specific B cell subtype also increased the activating effect of current immune therapies on T cells, and higher numbers of this B cell subtype in tumours before therapy predicted that a patient would respond better to subsequent immunotherapy.

"Further research is required to answer questions such as how melanoma cells modify B cells, what mechanism B cells use to support the activation of T cells, and how we can help these B cells to support current immunotherapies in cancer patients," concludes Griss.

Source: European Molecular Biology Laboratory - European Bioinformatics Institute

0

Comments

Please click on the 'New Comment' link to the left to add a new comment, or alternatively click any 'Add Comment' link next to any existing post to respond. The views expressed here are not those of ecancer. For more information please view our Privacy Policy.



Founding partners

European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

Founding Charities

Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

Published by

ecancer Global Foundation