Using a precursor to dendritic cells appears to be an efficient and effective way to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer tumors, according to a study in animal and cell models by researchers at the Duke University Cancer Institute, Durham, N.C.
The finding, described in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, provides an alternative to dendritic cell cancer vaccines, which have shown promise as a way to prompt T-cells to recognize and attack cancer cells, but have had limited success improving patient survival.
The new approach uses monocytes, a type of white blood cell that is a forerunner of dendritic cells. When the monocytes are loaded with an antigen and injected in mice, they indirectly induced a T-cell response that attacked tumors.
"This is a whole new approach," says senior author Michael D. Gunn, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Immunology. "It appears to offer two advantages relative to dendritic cell vaccination. First, we see better immune responses and anti-tumor responses--and second, to make a dendritic cell vaccine, it requires starting with monocytes...