Protein Helps Glioma Cells Evade Immune System

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The protein galectin-1 has been identified as playing a key role in a high grade malignant gliomas’ ability to evade early-warning immune system detection. Research recently published in Cancer Research authored by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School led by Pedro Lowenstein, MD, PhD, found the galectin-1 blocked natural kill cells from detecting and killing the tumors in the earliest stages of immune response.


When the creation of galectin-1 was blocked in cancer cells, the tumors never grew because of their detection by natural kill cells. When galectin-1 is created within a tumor cell at a typical rate, the immune cells did not recognize the cancerous cells as being dangerous until they had grown to be too large to eradicate with an immune response.


Gliomas comprise 80% of malignant brain tumors, including anaplastic oligodengrogliomas, anaplastic astrocytomas, and glioblastoma multiforme. Over 24,000 Americans are diagnosed with a primary malignant brain tumor every year and according to the researchers involved in this study, these findings could eventually lead to clinicians ability to help the innate immune system to recognize the early stages of cancer growth and eradicate it. As for now, further study is warranted for the mouse-based research to help human patients and researchers will continue to focus on ways in which they can enhance the ability of the innate immune system’s early-warning signals to identify and react to glioma cells as early as possible.

Researchers Find New Insight Into Brain Cancer and Parkinson's Disease
Findings show the key role of a protein called galectin-1 in some of the most dangerous brain tumors.
Brain tumors fly under the radar of the body's defense forces by coating their cells with extra amounts of a specific protein, new research shows. Like a stealth fighter jet, the coating means the cells evade detection by the early-warning immune system that should detect and kill them.

The stealth approach lets the tumors hide until it's too late for the body to defeat them. The findings, made in mice and rats, show the key role of a protein called galectin-1 in some of the most dangerous brain tumors, called high grade malignant gliomas.

A research team from the University of Michigan Medical School made the discovery and has published it online in the journal Cancer Research.

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