An immunologic portrait of cancer
ABSTRACT The advent of high-throughput technology challenges the traditional histopathological classification of cancer, and proposes new taxonomies derived from global transcriptional patterns. Although most of these molecular re-classifications did not endure the test of time, they provided bulk of new information that can reframe our understanding of human cancer biology. Here, we focus on an immunologic interpretation of cancer that segregates oncogenic processes independent from their tissue derivation into at least two categories of which one bears the footprints of immune activation. Several observations describe a cancer phenotype where the expression of interferon stimulated genes and immune effector mechanisms reflect patterns commonly observed during the inflammatory response against pathogens, which leads to elimination of infected cells. As these signatures are observed in growing cancers, they are not sufficient to entirely clear the organism of neoplastic cells but they sustain, as in chronic infections, a self-perpetuating inflammatory process. Yet, several studies determined an association between this inflammatory status and a favorable natural history of the disease or a better responsiveness to cancer immune therapy. Moreover, these signatures overlap with those observed during immune-mediated cancer rejection and, more broadly, immune-mediated tissue-specific destruction in other immune pathologies. Thus, a discussion concerning this cancer phenotype is warranted as it remains unknown why it occurs in immune competent hosts. It also remains uncertain whether a genetically determined response of the host to its own cancer, the genetic makeup of the neoplastic process or a combination of both drives the inflammatory process. Here we reflect on commonalities and discrepancies among studies and on the genetic or somatic conditions that may cause this schism in cancer behavior.
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ABSTRACT: It has been recently proposed that nanomaterials, alone or in concert with their specific biomolecular conjugates, can be used to directly modulate the immune system, therefore offering a new tool for the enhancement of immune-based therapies against infectious disease and cancer. Here, we revised the publications on the impact of functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNTs), graphene and carbon nanohorns on immune cells. Whereas f-CNTs are the nanomaterial most widely investigated, we noticed a progressive increase of studies focusing on graphene in the last couple of years. The majority of the works (56%) have been carried out on macrophages, following by lymphocytes (30% of the studies). In the case of lymphocytes, T cells were the most investigated (22%) followed by monocytes and dendritic cells (7%), mixed cell populations (peripheral blood mononuclear cells, 6%), and B and natural killer (NK) cells (1%). Most of the studies focused on toxicity and biocompatibility, while mechanistic insights on the effect of carbon nanotubes on immune cells are generally lacking. Only very recently high-throughput gene-expression analyses have shed new lights on unrecognized effects of carbon nanomaterials on the immune system. These investigations have demonstrated that some f-CNTs can directly elicitate specific inflammatory pathways. The interaction of graphene with the immune system is still at a very early stage of investigation. This comprehensive state of the art on biocompatible f-CNTs and graphene on immune cells provides a useful compass to guide future researches on immunological applications of carbon nanomaterials in medicine.Journal of Translational Medicine 05/2014; 12(1):138. DOI:10.1186/1479-5876-12-138 · 3.99 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: While immunotherapies are rapidly becoming mainstays of cancer treatment, significant gaps remain in our understanding of how to optimally target them, alone or in combination. Here we describe a novel method to monitor levels of immune cells and pathways in expression data from solid tumors using pre-defined groups or modules of co-regulated immune genes. We show that expression of an interconnected sub-network of type I interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in melanomas at the time of diagnosis significantly predicted patient survival, as did, to a lesser extent, sub-networks of T helper/T regulatory and NK/T Cytotoxic cell genes. As a group, poor prognosis tumors with reduced ISG and immune gene levels exhibited significant copy number loss of the interferon gene cluster located at chromosome 9p21.3. Our studies demonstrate a link between type I interferon action and immune cell levels in melanomas, and suggest that therapeutic approaches augmenting both activities may be most beneficial.PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e109760. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0109760 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In order to be optimally efficacious, therapeutic cancer vaccines must induce robust tumor-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, which are responsible for tumor cell lysis. Unlike cytotoxic drugs, which act directly on the tumor, cancer vaccines demonstrate new kinetics involving the generation of specific cellular immune responses, which need to be translated into antitumor responses to delay tumor progression and improve survival. These delayed kinetics of action establish a new concept of benefit in the long term, which implies a slow down in tumor growth rates, than a marked reduction in tumor size. Therefore, there is a significant need to identify intermediate biomarkers so that clinical responses can be evaluated in a timely manner. Therapeutic vaccination as a modality for cancer treatment has received significant attention with multiple clinical trials demonstrating improvements in overall survival. Significant challenges to this modality remain, including increasing vaccine potency and minimizing treatment-related toxicities and identifying prognostic and predictive biomarkers of clinical benefit that may guide to select and optimize the therapeutic strategies for patients most likely to gain benefit.Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics 10/2014; 15(1). DOI:10.1586/14737159.2015.965684 · 4.27 Impact Factor