(Press-News.org) Immunotherapy is an effective form of therapy for different types of cancer. However, for pancreatic cancer, its effect is limited and differs between men and women. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now found a possible explanation for this sex difference. The study, which is published in Cancer Research, reveals the presence of an immune cell in women with pancreatic cancer that obstructs the body’s immune response. The results can pave the way for a more sex-specific treatment.
“More and more evidence is coming in that male and female hormones affect our immune system, but much remains to be done before sex can be included as a self-evident biological factor in medical research and therapy,” says the paper’s first author Fei He, former visiting researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. “Our results provide new perspectives that can have high impact on the treatment of cancer.”
In recent years, immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells, has contributed significantly to the treatment of different kinds of cancer, such as melanoma and lung, kidney and liver cancer. However, it is much less effective against pancreatic cancer, which remains one of the deadliest kinds of cancer that leaves patients, on average, with four to six months left to live after diagnosis.
Sex-biased differences in the immune response
Previous studies have shown that there are sex-bound biological differences in the male and female immune system that, amongst other effects, determine how tumours grow and the body’s ability to defend itself against them. A collaborative study involving researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has now addressed what might cause such sex-related disparities in the immune response to pancreatic cancer.
The study demonstrated a crucial difference in tumour properties in men and women with pancreatic cancer. There is a type of immune cell present in women that protects the tumour and prevents the immune system’s T cells from infiltrating the tumour and attacking the cancer cells.
“This sub-group of immune cells correlates with poor survival exclusively in female cancer patients,” says the study’s corresponding author and principal investigator Dhifaf Sarhan, assistant professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. “Our results show that the immune cells express a specific protein called FPR2 and can serve both as a sex-specific prognostic factor and a therapeutic target.”
New target for immunotherapy in women
The results can be useful to the development of diagnostic tools and immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer that take into account biological differences between men and women. The study was based on a combination of methods including single-cell RNA sequencing, proteomics, test tube and patient validation, and treatments of 3D pancreatic cancer models and mice.
“The next step is to follow up our new immunotherapy target for women,” says Dr. Sarhan. “We’re also performing extensive analyses to understand how immunological sex differences drive tumour development in different ways in male and female cancer patients with the goal to find and develop immunotherapy targets for each group.”
The study is the result of a close collaboration between Dr. Sarhan’s research group and researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Pronoxis AB and Uppsala University in Sweden and universities in Canada, Singapore and China.
The study was financed by several bodies, principally the Swedish Cancer Society, Karolinska Institutet (KI Funds), the Centre for Innovative Medicine (CIMED) and the Cancer Research Funds of Radiumhemmet (see paper for full list). Peter Olofsson‐Sahl works at Pronoxis, which develops antagonists for FPR1 and FPR2. The other researchers report no conflicts of interest.
Publication: “FPR2 shapes an immune-excluded pancreatic tumor microenvironment and drives T-cell exhaustion in a sex-dependent manner”. Fei He, Apple Hui Min Tay, Ahmed Calandigary, Enana Malki, Sayaka Suzuki, Tianjie Liu, Qi Wang, Carlos Fernández Moro, Marina Kaisso, Peter Olofsson‐ Sahl, Marit Melssen, Siu Kwan Sze, Mikael Björnstedt, Matthias Löhr, Mikael C I Karlsson, Rainer Heuchel, Dhifaf Sarhan. Cancer Research, online 15 March 2023, doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-22-2932.
Immune cell gives possible explanation for sex differences in pancreatic cancer
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Tax policy may not be enough to combat climate change
A new paper in The Review of Economic Studies, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that carbon taxes will be less effective at reducing carbon emissions than previously thought. It also finds that tax interventions needed to achieve goals agreed upon in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016 will need to be larger than previously thought. There is growing interest among researchers and policymakers in using economic policy to reduce or eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. Policy can reduce carbon emissions in several ways, including pushing the economy towards cleaner sources of energy and decreasing overall energy use. The researchers ...
Rapid surge in highly contagious killer fungus poses new threat to amphibians across Africa
Mass fungus infections that drive populations worldwide to near-collapse don’t just occur in science fiction. Chytridiomycosis, the worst vertebrate disease in recorded history, has already wiped out hundreds of species of amphibians around the world. Due to a large part to this fungal disease, 41% of amphibians are currently threatened with extinction. Only species living in Africa seemed to have been relatively spared from the scourge of chytridiomycosis – at least so far. Now, a study in Frontiers in Conservation Science ...
Discovering the unexplored: Synthesis and analysis of a new orthorhombic Sn3O4 polymorph
Oxides of tin (SnxOy) are found in many of modern technologies due to their versatile nature. The multivalent oxidation states of tin—Sn2+ and Sn4+—impart tin oxides with electroconductivity, photocatalysis, and various functional properties. For the photocatalysis application of tin oxides, a narrow bandgap for visible-light absorption is indispensable to utilize a wide range of solar energy. Hence, the discovery of new SnxOy could help improve the efficiency of many environmentally significant photocatalytic reactions like water splitting and CO2 reduction. ...
CHEST releases clinical practice guideline on respiratory management of patients with neuromuscular weakness
Glenview, Illinois – The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) recently released a new clinical guideline on respiratory management of patients with neuromuscular weakness. Published in the journal CHEST®, the guideline contains 15 evidence-based recommendations, a good practice statement and an ungraded consensus-based statement. Endorsed by the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American Thoracic Society, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Canadian Thoracic Society, the guideline recommendations include mouthpiece ventilation, transition to home mechanical ventilation, salivary secretion management and airway clearance ...
Researcher solves nearly 60-year-old game theory dilemma
To understand how driverless vehicles can navigate the complexities of the road, researchers often use game theory — mathematical models representing the way rational agents behave strategically to meet their goals. Dejan Milutinovic, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Cruz, has long worked with colleagues on the complex subset of game theory called differential games, which have to do with game players in motion. One of these games is called the wall pursuit game, a relatively simple model for a situation in which a faster pursuer ...
Mediterranean diet cuts women’s cardiovascular disease and death risk by nearly 25%
Sticking closely to a Mediterranean diet cuts a woman’s risks of cardiovascular disease and death by nearly 25%, finds a pooled data analysis of the available evidence—the first of its kind—published online in the journal Heart. The findings prompt the researchers to call for more sex specific research to guide clinical practice in heart health. Cardiovascular disease accounts for more than a third of all deaths in women around the world. While a healthy diet is a key plank of prevention, most relevant clinical trials have included relatively few women or haven’t reported the results by sex, say the researchers. And current guidelines ...
High blood caffeine level might curb amount of body fat and type 2 diabetes risk
A high blood caffeine level might curb the amount of body fat a person carries and their risk of type 2 diabetes, suggests research published in the open access journal BMJ Medicine. In light of their findings, the potential role of calorie free caffeinated drinks for lowering the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes is probably now worth exploring, say the researchers. Previously published research indicates that drinking 3-5 daily cups of coffee, a rich source of caffeine, is associated with a lower risk ...
TikTok health information videos on Mpox often inaccurate and of poor quality
Health information on M(onkey)pox, posted on the social media platform TikTok, is often inaccurate, incomplete, and of poor quality, finds a recent analysis of relevant videos, published in the open access journal BMJ Global Health. The findings highlight the potential risks of using social media for health information, particularly during public health emergencies, warn the researchers. Mpox, formerly called monkeypox, usually describes fever, swollen lymph glands (lymphadenopathy), and painful skin pustules all over the body ...
Altered “neuronal avalanches” in brains of epilepsy patients tied to cognitive performance
New research by the Human Brain Project has found that in the brains of patients with epilepsy, changes in large scale neuronal activations can be detected in the brain’s resting state activity, even when no seizure is ongoing. The non-invasive approach could lead to a new method to aid epilepsy diagnostics. Diagnosing epilepsy can be problematic for patients, who sometimes have to wear helmets and electrodes for prolonged periods of time waiting for an epileptic episode to happen, so that the clinicians can document it with EEG. Alternatively, the seizure is artificially induced, causing discomfort. The new ...
Neolithic ceramics reveal dairy processing from milk of multiple species
A new study has found evidence of cheesemaking, using milk from multiple animals in Late Neolithic Poland. The research suggests that early farmers reduced the lactose content in milk by making it into cheese or other dairy products like yoghurt, and used dairy products from a number of different animals, such as cows, sheep or goats. Lactose intolerance was a common condition in almost everyone in Europe during the Neolithic and until the Late Bronze Age when the genetic mutation became widespread, enabling adults to produce lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose in the body. Researchers looked at the practice of dairy processing ...