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Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jul 1;23(13):3241-3250. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-3122. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

The Promise of Targeting Macrophages in Cancer Therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Department of Neurology, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.


Cancer therapy has developed around the concept of killing, or stopping the growth of, the cancer cells. Molecularly targeted therapy is the modern expression of this paradigm. Increasingly, however, the realization that the cancer has co-opted the normal cells of the stroma for its own survival has led to the concept that the tumor microenvironment (TME) could be targeted for effective therapy. In this review, we outline the importance of tumor-associated macrophages (TAM), a major component of the TME, in the response of tumors to cancer therapy. We discuss the normal role of macrophages in wound healing, the major phenotypes of TAMs, and their role in blunting the efficacy of cancer treatment by radiation and anticancer drugs, both by promoting tumor angiogenesis and by suppressing antitumor immunity. Finally, we review the many preclinical studies that have shown that the response of tumors to irradiation and anticancer drugs can be improved, sometimes markedly so, by depleting TAMs from tumors or by suppressing their polarization from an M1 to an M2 phenotype. The data clearly support the validity of clinical testing of combining targeting TAMs with conventional therapy. Clin Cancer Res; 23(13); 3241-50. ©2017 AACR.

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