Cancer cells send ‘malware’: Polish scientists

Polish scientists have revealed a mechanism used by cancer cells which “tricks” the immune system by sending false information which blocks the activity of lymphocytes.

According to a study conducted by a team of professors at the Medical University of Warsaw, cancer cells may send small vesicles of a substance to lymph nodes blocking the response of the immune system. Because lymph nodes receive false data, the immune system has a harder time fighting mutated cells.

The study’s findings based on ovarian cancer have been published in the science journal “Nature Communications”. The mechanism used by cancer cells was not known to exist. Scientists are now working on a therapy, which will utilise this knowledge.

“We have proved that tumors send a kind of e-mail containing malware to the immune system,” explains Prof. Jakub Gołąb, the leader of the research team.

In cooperation with the Polish company OncoArendi Therapeutics, the team has developed a substance which could become an anti-cancer drug, blocking vesicles sent by cancer cells.

The substance is currently in preclinical trials and will be given to patients in 2020. There is a chance that the new therapy could help not only with fighting ovarian cancer, but all types of cancer.