Zarif and Theodros: In some cancers, myeloid cells “can be hijacked to suppress the immune system, to allow cancer to grow, progress and spread around the body.”
A team led by cancer immunologists Debebe Theodros, M.D., Ph.D., and Jelani Zarif, Ph.D., has found something new in renal cell carcinoma (RCC): the presence of unique, myeloid (resembling bone marrow) immune cells in tumors and nearby tissues in early, localized disease.
“When most people think of immune cells, they think of T cells or leukocytes, which recognize and destroy infectious bacteria, but can also attack cancer cells,” says Zarif. “Myeloid cells are a different type of immune cell, and in RCC and some other cancers, they can be hijacked by the cancer to suppress the immune system, to allow cancer to grow, progress and spread around the body.” This finding is promising, he adds: “The immune proteins related to these infiltrating myeloid cells may be targets for new therapies for patients with RCC.”
Zarif, Theodros, and other Hopkins scientists interested in RCC meet regularly as part of the Kidney Cancer Collaborative Program. This work, published in Molecular Cellular Proteomics, is one of the group’s first studies.