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11Mar 2020

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Immune cells and tumour cells wage war at a distance

A T cell is an immune cell that can recognise and destroy tumour cells. For many years, scientists viewed this as a kind of one-to-one combat, but researchers Miriam Hoekstra and Laura Bornes of the Netherlands Cancer Institute have discovered that the effects of a T cell extend far beyond its target. As soon as a T cell recognises a tumour cell, it not only disables its target but also affects the rest of the tumour by secreting the signaling molecule interferon gamma (IFN-γ). The study was led by Ton Schumacher and Jacco van Rheenen. An article detailing this discovery was published on 9 March in the new scientific journal Nature Cancer.

The article: Long-distance modulation of bystander tumour cells by CD8+ T cell-secreted IFNγ
Authors: Mirjam E. Hoekstra, Laura Bornes#, Feline E. Dijkgraaf, Daisy Philips, Iris N. Pardieck, Daniela S. Thommen, Jacco van Rheenen & Ton N.M. Schumacher.

Published in Nature Cancer, 9 March 2020.

20200309 Afbeelding Bij T Cellen En Tumorcellen Voeren Oorlog Op Afstand


Microscopy image of a tumour (all coloured cells). The scale bar shows half a millimetre. The tumour cells that can be recognised by T cells are shown in blue: this is where interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is secreted by activated T cells. The rest of the tumour cells are unrecognisable to T cells and light up when they receive IFN-γ: the white tumour cells have received the most IFN-γ and the red tumour cells the least. This shows how a small group of T cells exert an effect on the entire tumour using the signal molecule IFN-γ.

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