AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020

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Ludwig Lausanne Study Charts the Immune Landscape of Multiple Brain Cancers

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A Ludwig Cancer Research study has profiled, in a sweeping comparative analysis, the distinct immune landscapes of tumors that arise in the brain, or gliomas, and those that metastasize to the organ from the lungs, breast and skin. Led by Ludwig Lausanne Member Johanna Joyce, the study captures in granular detail how the functions, locations and characteristics of various immune cells sculpt the tumor microenvironment (TME) to thwart immune attack, support cancer cell survival and drive tumor progression.

“Looking at these tumors side by side, we could very clearly see the differences not just between primary and metastatic brain cancers but also high-grade versus low-grade gliomas, and then among metastases originating from different primary sites,” says Joyce. “Without juxtaposing those different disease entities, we wouldn’t have been able to discover how profoundly different their immune landscapes are.” 

Cancers selectively harness a variety of immune cells and even manipulate their gene expression programs to get them to suppress anti-tumor immune responses, aid metastasis, establish a blood supply and provide other critical support. Targeting such turncoat immune cells, or “reeducating” them to attack their host tumors, is now a major focus of cancer immunology.

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