A new molecule found in the malignant cells of neuroblastoma may be used to obtain an effective treatment
Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that primarily affects children and infants. It is the most common extra-cranial solid tumor, unfortunately with a very poor prognosis.
By studying neuroblastoma samples, scientists have discovered a molecule called arginase, which affects the level of arginine found in the area surrounding the tumor. Arginine is also a source of energy for the body’s immune system. Up until now the treatments focused on boosting the body’s natural immunity, but the scientists believe that arginine might be the answer to find new ways of treating this cancer.
All neuroblastoma cells have been found to have a molecule called GDC on their surface that differentiates them from healthy cells. If scientists will find a way to make the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells than we’ll have a new way to better fight cancer, based on this late discovery.
Study author Dr. Francis Mussai, of the University of Birmingham in the UK, says: “We have known for a while that harnessing the power of the immune system could be an effective way to treat neuroblastoma. But we didn’t know why the immune cells were having such difficulty recognizing and destroying the tumor. There didn’t seem to be any direct signal the cancer cells sent to the immune cells. The neuroblastoma cells just acted like kryptonite to the T cells. As soon as they were brought together, all of the normal cancer-fighting abilities of the immune cells were dramatically weakened.”
The study authors hope that the new findings will pave the way for specifically targeted treatments, developing new drugs by using arginine for a more effective immune therapy for this type of childhood cancer.