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Remodeling Tumour Vasculature: A new Approach to Therapy
15 September 2009
European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS)
Life-threatening tumours are fed by the uncontrolled growth of blood vessels within them that allows them to thrive – and to halt disease-fighting cells in their tracks. Reversing or re-arranging the growth of these vessels in combination with specific immune strategies is a promising new strategy for cancer therapy, says Ruth Ganss, Professor at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, at the 2nd European Congress of Immunology ECI 2009 held in Berlin.
Currently, a lot of research effort goes into attempts to kill tumour vessels. Once tumour vessels are killed tumours grow slower. Ganss’ approach is novel in a way that she and her co-workers postulate that by remodelling tumour vessels as opposed of killing them, they make tumours more accessible for therapy. Their goal is to develop combination therapies where they activate immune cells and simultaneously change the tumour vessels to improve access by immune cells and ultimately tumour destruction.
“Our laboratory has identified several ways to interfere with growth of blood vessels in a tumour, a process called angiogenesis, and thus to improve therapy”, says Ganss.
For instance, the scientists have described a master gene that occurs in blood vessels within tumours. By removing this gene in mice, they have been able to reverse the process of angiogenesis so that tumour blood vessels appear more normal. “Importantly, this normalisation changes the tumour environment in a way that improves immune cell entry, meaning tumours can be destroyed”, Ganss stresses. In laboratory tests using mice, this resulted in dramatically improved survival rates.
The scientists also made use of the characteristics of the abnormal tumour vessels which provided them with a “homing address” to direct inflammatory factors into tumours. These factors then change the tumour vessels and activate them in a way that barriers are broken down and immune cells can enter the tumour and do a better job.
EFIS is an umbrella organization that represents more than 12,000 individual members from 28 member societies in 31 European countries (all European Union member states and all other European states) and reaches beyond the European boundaries to Israel.
“Immunity for Life – Immunology for Health”: with this as their motto, all National European Societies of Immunology will convene from the 13th to 16th September, 2009, in Berlin, Germany. This Congress offers a four day comprehensive program on the state of the art in Immunology. More than 30 symposia and 60 workshops will cover topics from basic research to applied Immunology. The foci of this meeting are newly acquired knowledge about innate and adaptive immunity, the various aspects of immunological diseases, as well as new options for immune interventions. Professor Reinhold E. Schmidt, the president of the Congress and Director of the Clinic for Immunology and Rheumatology at Hanover Medical School, is pleased to invite journalists to attend this event.
Prof. Ruth Ganss, Perth