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Monday, April 12, 2010

Preventing liver metastasis

Unfortunately for cancer patients, many kinds of cancers eventually spread to the liver, at which point they are often no longer curable. George Miller and his colleagues from the New York University School of Medicine believe they have found out why. Metastasis to the liver is controlled by the immune system.

The scientists observed the course of pancreatic and colon cancers in mice. They found that the livers of these mice started producing immune-suppressing cells. In particular, the cells were suppressing T-cells activation, preventing the liver from recognizing and killing tumor cells.

Based on this new data, the researchers hope to find new therapies for preventing liver cancer. By targeting the liver’s immunosuppressive cells, other cancers may be prevented from spreading to the liver.