Dendritic cells are sentinels of the immune system and are found in tissues and organs all over the body. They constantly sample their environment for invaders and if they pick up any foreign matter–such as bacteria or viruses–or sense a cancerous cell, the dendritic cells become activated, leave their tissue and migrate to the operating center of the immune system, the lymph nodes. Here, dendritic cells report to the immune effector cells, T cells, that there is an infection or a tumor back in the tissue that they came from and that action is required by T cells to destroy the invaders.
In many cases, dendritic cells do not recognize tumors in the body. In the December issue of Nature Immunology (Vol. 1, No. 6, 01 Dec 2000), researchers from Saint Julien-en-Genevois, France, have found that a bacterial molecule, OmpA, strongly activates dendritic cells. When a dendritic cell comes into contact with OmpA at the same time as a tumor cell, the dendritic cells orchestrate a deadly immune response against the tumor. This work suggests that it could be possible to vaccinate cancer patients using their own individual tumors to illicit specific and unique anti-tumor responses. This exciting work may lead to human trials of this dendritic cell vaccine.
Centre d'Immunologie Pierre Fabre
5, Avenue Napoleon III
Saint-Julien en Genevois, F-74164
Tel: +33 4-50-35-35-32
Fax: +33 4-50-35-35-90
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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