The UCLA study is expected to lead to new ways to test immune-based therapies for cancer and other immune system-related diseases and to monitor human response to cancer treatments much more quickly and without the need for invasive biopsies, said Dr. Owen Witte, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and the study's senior author.
The study appears in the Nov. 29, 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will be published in an early online edition this week.
"This study is teaching us about how the immune system recognizes cancer. That's something we couldn't see before," said Witte, who also serves as director of the UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "We were able to watch the primary immune response, the very first reaction of the immune system to the presence of cancer in body. This gives us a new tool that will allow us to evaluate novel ways to help the immune system become better at finding and eliminating cancer as well as studying autoimmune and immune deficiency disorders."
In the study, Witte and his team removed bone marrow from a laboratory animal and marked all the cells that would be derived from the bone marrow stem cells with two radioactive probes that are detected by a PET scan. Because they used different probes that show in different ways the cell functions, the research team was able to see more of what was going on in the immune system as it fought cancer, Witte said.
The bone marrow was then put into a different laboratory animal and cancer was introduced so researchers could monitor the immune response the movement and beha
Contact: Kim Irwin
University of California - Los Angeles