Montreal scientists researching how to help immune system fight cancer

Combining therapies that stop the brakes and those that push on the accelerator “can really increase the capacity of macrophages to devour and destroy cancerous cells.

(Jean-Benoit Legault/ The Montreal Gazette) — Montreal researchers have identified a mechanism that could make the immune system more efficient in attacking and destroying cancerous tumours.

Dr. André Veillette, of the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, and his colleagues identified two molecules on the surface of macrophages — immune cells that devour invaders — to increase their destructive instinct and create “super devourers of cancerous cells.”

Several studies that examined the role the immune system plays in the battle against cancer focused on T cells, whose role is to defend the body against viruses, bacteria and parasites as well as cancerous cells. (…)

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