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Cancer Res. 2016 Feb 1;76(3):513-6. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-1737. Epub 2016 Jan 15.

A Breakthrough: Macrophage-Directed Cancer Immunotherapy.

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BioMedical Consultants, Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota.
Immunology and Microbiology Department, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.
Applied Immunology and Immunotherapy, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Successful immunotherapy of cancer is becoming a reality aided by the realization that macrophages play an important role in the growth or regression of tumors. Specifically, M2/repair-type macrophages predominate in human cancers and produce growth-promoting molecules that actively stimulate tumor growth in much the same way they help wounds heal. However, modulating M2/repair-type macrophages to M1/kill-type can slow or stop cancer growth. The effects involve direct activity of M1 kill-type as well as the ability of M1-type macrophages to stimulate Th1-type cytotoxic T cells and other effector cells. Macrophage responses can also predict cancer susceptibility; individuals with a high M1/kill to M2/repair ratio are less prone. That macrophages/innate immunity can be modulated to play a central role in directly or indirectly combating cancer is a breakthrough that seems likely to finally make successful immunotherapy of cancer a reality.

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