Ever let dishes pile up while you deal with a crisis? Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have a new strategy to reprogram certain immune cells inside tumors so that they focus on killing cancer cells rather than tidying up after tumor cells die.
The plan involves a process the scavenger immune cells use to digest the dead and dying tumor cells they pick up for disposal. Researchers showed that disabling the process in the immune cells transformed them from housecleaners to cancer fighters.
Doug Green, PhD, St. Jude Department of Immunology chair, and his colleagues. discovered the process, known as LAP, in 2007. He also led this research. (LAP is short for LC3-associated phagocytosis.)
“Lung and other tumors grew more slowly when LAP was disabled in scavenger immune cells called macrophages in mice,” Green said. “The search for compounds that would allow us to regulate the process has begun.”
The research appeared in the journal Cell.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit stjude.org, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.