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Presence of "Treg" immune cells improves outcomes for colorectal cancer patients

Posted by on 8 March 2017 | Comments

A particular type of immune cell in the tumour of colorectal cancer patients is positively correlated with increased chances of survival, according to the results of a pilot study led by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

The study was co-authored by Kirsten Ward-Harstonge, PhD student in the Kemp Lab, and was published in the international journal Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy.

People with more "effector T regulatory (Treg)" immune cells present in their colorectal tumours were more likely to be disease-free for longer than those who had fewer of these cells.

The study utilised a new tool to measure basic immune cell infiltrates in tumours, the Immunoscore. Measuring more complex immune cells, the research looked at which type of immune responses were associated with patient survival. Thirty-two individuals with early stage (II) colorectal cancer were followed up for more than five years - 13 individuals had recurrence of their cancer over this time and 19 individuals did not. 

Read the media release on the University of Otago website.

Kirsten Ward Hartstonge

Lead author Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge