Cancer cells gain strength by forming “little traps” that suck the power out of immune cells, a recent study has suggested that could help develop new drug targets against the deadly disease.
research published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, found that cancer cells deactivate their potential invaders in the immune system by expanding ultra-small tentacles that reach immune cells and eject their powerpacks, mitochondria.
Shiladitya Sengupta, a co-author of the study and co-director of the Brigham Center for Engineered Therapeutics in the US, said, “When the immune system is suppressed and cancer cells are able to metastasize, and it appears that nanotubes allow them to both can help.” , said in a statement.
In the research, the scientists co-cultured breast cancer cells and immune cells, such as T cells, and using state-of-the-art microscopy techniques, found that the two cells were physically present through tiny tendrils with widths in the 100 nanometer to 1,000 nanometer range. was associated with. Several thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The researchers then stained the mitochondria, which provide energy for the cells, with a fluorescent dye from T cells. They could see that mitochondria, stained bright green, were pulled through the nanotubes from immune cells and into cancer cells.
Co-corresponding author Hee Lin Jung from the Brigham Center for Engineered Therapeutics said, “By carefully preserving cell culture conditions and looking at intracellular structures, we saw these delicate nanotubes and they were stealing the immune cells’ energy source. “
“This is an entirely new mechanism by which cancer cells evade the immune system and it gives us a new target to pursue,” Sengupta said. and Invictus Oncology, and receives fees from the firms Famygen and Advamedica.
The scientists then injected an inhibitor of nanotube formation into mouse models used to study lung cancer and breast cancer.
They reported a significant reduction in tumor growth, adding that the inhibitor may prevent cancer cells from hijacking mitochondria.
“Disrupting the nanotube assembly machinery significantly decreased mitochondrial transfer and prevented the depletion of immune cells,” they wrote.
The scientists call for further research in animal models to test the potential therapeutic benefits of preventing the formation of these nanotubes.
Saha said, “Based on our observations, there is evidence that inhibitors of nanotube formation can be combined with cancer immunotherapy and tested to see if it can improve patients’ outcomes. Or not.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /