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How ovarian cancers evade the immune system

The finding could also lead to new screening tools to detect early disease or allow doctors to better predict which treatments might work best for individual ovarian cancer patients.

(Krista Conger/ Scope, Stanford Medicine) — It’s diabolical, and so clever. Recent research by cancer biologist Wendy Fantl, PhD, and immunologist and cancer biologist Veronica Gonzalez, PhD, shows that ovarian tumors thrive by convincing nearby immune cells that the cancer cells are those of a developing fetus.

They do so by transferring a molecule called CD9 from their cell surface to the surface of the immune cells via a kind of cellular resource swapping known as trogocytosis.

CD9 is usually only found on immune cells, called natural killer cells, during early pregnancy, and its presence signals to the cells to stand down in the face of a developing, immunologically foreign, fetus. (…)