Sydney, Oct 8 (IANS): In an effort to find more effective treatments and improve bowel cancer screening, researchers have discovered a new roadmap to beat the disease, a new study has said.
According to the study published in the journal Science Immunology, immunotherapy is one of the most promising new treatments for cancer, which involves boosting the ability of immune cells to recognise and remove cancer cells.
However, less than 10 per cent of bowel cancer patients respond to current immunotherapies.
"We have discovered that an important group of immune cells in the large bowel -- gamma delta T cells -- are crucial to preventing bowel cancer," said Lisa Mielke, principal investigator at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Australia.
"Gamma delta T cells act as our frontline defenders in the bowel. What makes these immune cells extraordinary is that they constantly patrol and safeguard the epithelial cells lining the bowel, acting as warriors against potential cancer threats," she added.
According to Mielke, when researchers analysed bowel cancer patient samples, they found that when more gamma delta T cells were present in the tumours, these patients were reported to have better outcomes and improved survival. The large bowel contains trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi, collectively known as the microbiome.
While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are extremely important for the immune system.
Describing how this new research may lead to improved treatments for cancer patients in the future, lead co-author of this study, Marina Yakou, said: "We discovered that the amount, and diversity of, the microbiome in the large bowel resulted in a higher concentration of a molecule called TCF-1 on Gamma delta T cells compared to other areas of the gut. This molecule (TCF-1) suppresses our natural immune response, the gamma delta T cells, from fighting off bowel cancer."
"When we deleted TCF-1 in gamma delta T cells using pre-clinical models, this fundamentally changed the behaviour of these immune cells and we saw a remarkable reduction in the size of bowel cancer tumours," she added.