publication date: Feb. 28, 2017

Skin Cancer Immune Responses in Virus-Related Skin Cancer Suggest Immunotherapy Strategy

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington say a new study suggests ways to improve immune therapy for certain cancers including a virus-associated form of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare, aggressive skin cancer.

Merkel cell carcinoma, or MCC, is 35 times less common than melanoma, but on average, it is about three times more likely to be deadly. There are currently no therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this cancer.

About 80 percent of the 2,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year are caused in part by a virus – Merkel cell polyomavirus – that is often present on normal skin without consequence. Previous studies have linked a weaker immune system with poorer survival in patients with the disease.

In this study, researchers at UW and Fred Hutch, a leading center developing experimental, genetically engineered T-cell therapies, conducted an unprecedented in-depth analysis of the immune system’s “killer” (CD8) T cells that respond to a specific part of the Merkel cell polyomavirus.

The immune system’s effectiveness is determined by many factors, including how well T cells can infiltrate a tumor and bind to the “foreign” proteins, or antigens. More specifically, T cells seek out and attach to antigens using their highly … Continue reading CCL Feb 2017 – Immune Responses in Virus-Related Skin Cancer Suggest Immunotherapy Strategy

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