Two new discoveries from the Dudley lab at UVA Cancer Center highlight the different roles of blood vessels in solid tumors — and the findings could help prevent breast cancer from spreading and enhance the effectiveness of one of the most important new cancer treatments in many years.
In one new scientific paper, researcher Andrew C. Dudley, PhD, and his team report that the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs called immune check blockade is enhanced when blood vessels are targeted in a specific way. (Immunotherapy enhances the power of the immune system to fight cancer and other diseases.) In another paper, published soon after, Dudley and collaborators outline a finding that could help prevent breast cancer from metastasizing, or spreading to other parts of the body.
“Blood vessels can act both as good guys and bad guys in a growing tumor. On one hand, blood vessels are a passageway that allows special immune cells to enter the tumor, where they will hopefully find cancer cells and kill them. On the other hand, blood vessels act as a highway for cancer cells to enter the bloodstream and spread to distant sites in the body,” said Dudley, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology. “Our work highlights the dual role that blood vessels can play in cancer that we hope will improve our understanding of how to best elicit anti-tumor immune responses or even prevent metastasis.” [source]