01:47pm Friday 06 December 2019

UMDNJ Research Shows Adult Stem Cells May Protect Breast Cancer Cells from Immune Responses

“Our findings show that regulatory T cells may be providing a facilitative environment in which breast cancer cells can survive and possibly resurge after years of disease-free survival,” explained Shyam Patel, an M.D./Ph.D. student at the University’s New Jersey Medical School and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and lead author of “Mesenchymal Stem Cells Protect Breast Cancer Cells through Regulatory T Cells: Role of Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived TGF-2.”

Patel’s co-authors are Justin R. Meyer, a first-year student at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School; Steven J. Greco, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the medical school; Kelly E. Corcoran, a Ph.D. candidate at the UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Margarette Bryan, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Medical Oncology & Hemotology at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School; and Pranela Rameshwar, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Medicine at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. The article is available now online to journal subscribers and will be in the journal’s May 15 print edition.

Among the team’s research goals are to identify reasons for resistance to chemotherapy and radiation in breast cancer patients and to understand why breast cancer cells remain dormant in bone marrow for years. One idea the group developed is that cancer may have a stem cell basis.
“This study explains why breast cancer survives in the bone marrow of patients, even if the subject has a competent immune system,” Rameshwar said.

“If they are protected in bone marrow, the cancer cells will have an advantage to integrate within the microenvironment and adapt dormancy,” Rameshwar said. “These cells are likely to evade treatment since the location will be in a region that limits the dose of anti-cancer agents.”

The research team’s next step is to study the various subsets of breast cancer cells and the specific immune responses, since this may help determine which course of treatment is most beneficial and predict the patient’s outcome following treatment, Rameshwar said.

Reporters interested in interviewing Shyam Patel or Pranela Rameshwar, Ph.D., should contact Zenaida Mendez at (973) 972-7273, (973) 972-3000 or mendezze@umdnj.edu.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,900 students attending the state’s three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of health care services, with multiple locations throughout the state.

Name: Zenaida Mendez
Phone: (973) 972-7273
Email: mendezze@umdnj.edu

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