Cell maps reveal fresh details on how the immune system fights cancer

May 5, 2017

By Heidi Ledford

Detailed maps of the immune cells that surround tumours could suggest fresh therapeutic targets, point out biological markers that can be used to select the patients most likely to respond to a given therapy, and offer insights into the best time to start administering that treatment, according to two studies released on 4 May.

The papers, published in Cell1, 2, reflect a growing appreciation by cancer researchers that a tumour’s response to treatment is often guided by the cells in its neighbourhoodparticularly the immune cells that amass at its borders and invade its core.

The make-up of that population could determine the success of immunotherapy treatments, which unleash the immune system to fight cancer. And advances in the ability to characterize those individual cells in unprecedented detail are fuelling a push to catalogue them and learn more about how they dictate the progression of the disease.

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