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Johns Hopkins All Children’s Researchers Identify Important “Molecular Signature” for Predicting Breast Cancer Survival

By Randolph Fillmore

Efforts in planning treatments and evaluating the prognosis for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients may have taken a leap forward thanks to a recent study carried out by a Johns Hopkins All Children’s research team in the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute.

Their study, titled “Molecular Signature of Tumor-Associated High Endothelial Venules that can Predict Breast Cancer Survival,” was recently published in Cancer Immunology Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. This research is the latest in their quest for ways to help the natural immune system fight cancer through “adaptive immunity.”

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Exploiting patients’ adaptive immunity, which is mediated by cancer-fighting T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes, is one of the most promising therapeutic strategies to treat many types of cancer. The hope and promise are that a boosted immune system can get to work more efficiently in its fight against cancer.

What are HEVs and Why Are They Important?

This most recent study explains how immune cells are “recruited” to tumors by blood vessels called “high endothelial venules,” or HEVs. HEVs transport the patient’s immune cells into a tumor’s interior to help in the fight against cancer.

“The immune system develops a defense against pathogens or malignant cells by recruiting disease-fighting white blood cells called ‘lymphocytes’ that circulate in the body,” explains Masanobu Komatsu, Ph.D., a senior scientist who led this study in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute.

Komatsu compares immune system’s T cells and B cells to “soldiers” that get recruited into the battle against cancer and that HEVs are like “highways” for immune cells to help to get the “troops” to the tumors where they can fight cancer.

Malignant tumors, however, do not always develop functional HEVs.

Read more:  Read the full story by Randy Fillmore

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