Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and its Perlmutter Cancer Center have uncovered a critical pathway by which pancreatic cancer cells turn off the immune system charged with attacking them. The findings appear in a paper published online April 10 in Nature Medicine.
The study, conducted in mice and including analyses of human cancers, found very high levels of two proteins—dectin-1 and galectin-9—in pancreatic tumors. Their interaction prevented first-responder immune cells, called macrophages, from triggering reactions that kill cancer cells. Related analyses of human patient data linked elevated levels of galectin-9 to reduced survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), although larger, confirmatory studies are needed, say the authors.
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