Serious Infections Inhibit Blood Vessel Development to Tumor

Serious Infections Can Guard Against Tumor Growth By Inhibiting The Development Of Blood Vessels, Study Finds

Serious infections can retard and even halt the growth of tumors in mammals by blocking the formation of blood vessels that nourish those tumors, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine have found.

The finding, reported in the Cutting Edge section of the May 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, offers researchers an important new lead on ways to block angiogenesis, the growth of new small arteries and veins.

"This finding suggests that infected animals could be a source of new, extremely potent inhibitors of angiogenesis, the Holy Grail of modern anti-cancer research," said lead author Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, an assistant professor of pathology in Penn’s veterinary school.

The result also turns on its head decades of dogma among immunologists, who had believed that when the cells of the immune system were mobilized against life-threatening infections, tumors also fell victim to this fortification of the body’s defenses. Now, Thomas-Tikhonenko’s work has shown that during infection tumors don’t grow even in animals with severely weakened immune systems.

This indicates that it’s the suppression of angiogenesis, not antigen-battling lymphocytes and macrophages, that holds the key to this long-recognized phenomenon.

"This is a whole new way of looking at how cancer can be inhibited in mammals," said John Hibbs, professor of internal medicine and chief of the Infectious Disease Division at the University of Utah, who has conducted research on infection-mediated suppression of tumorigenesis. "For a number of years, immunologists have regarded this process as a cytotoxic effect mediated by lymphocytes and activated macrophages.

This work shows that infections also inhibit tumors by a surprisingly different mechanism."

Thanks to ScienceDaily.

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