Researchers from Western Australia are working to improve immune system, so that we can defeat cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
It has already been found that in late stages of life, immunity decreases and that could be the reason for increased chances of cancer in that part of life.
In order to understand the relation between decreasing immunity and the start of mesothelioma and other cancers, researchers from Curtin University and the University of Western Australia worked on specific type of immune-system-cells called as macrophages. Macrophages are large cells – type of white blood cells – that are present in blood, lymph, and connective tissues, removing waste products, harmful microorganisms, and foreign material from the bloodstream.
“Macrophages make up to 50 per cent of the mesothelioma and lung cancer tumour burden, therefore representing a viable therapeutic target if we can understand how they function with age and tumour suppression,” Dr Connie Jackaman from Curtin University’s immunology and cancer group said in a statement.
Researchers worked on mice and found that macrophage activation in old mice through suitable activation signals could improve age-related and tumour-induced immune disorders.
“Immune dysfunction is not permanent and in fact can be restored to function similarly to a young immune system,” Dr Jackaman says.
“The public may be interested to know that as they get older it is not necessarily all downhill.
“The next step for our research group is to see if we can target macrophages in a live model and induce tumour regression in elderly immune systems.”
Jackaman, C., Radley-Crabb, H., Soffe, Z., Shavlakadze, T., Grounds, M., & Nelson, D. (2013). Targeting macrophages rescues age-related immune deficiencies in C57BL/6J geriatric mice Aging Cell, 12 (3), 345-357 DOI: 10.1111/acel.12062