'Killer' immune cell 'boosts breast cancer survival chances'
Women are more likely to survive aggressive breast cancer if they have a certain type of "killer" immune cell near their tumour, a study has shown. Killer T-cells were shown destroy infected or damaged cells with toxic proteins, scientists said.
Scientists behind the discovery that sufferers of aggressive breast cancer stand a better chance of survival if they have "killer" T-cells near their tumour said the finding was "key" to a better understanding of how to fight the disease.
Professor Peter Johnson,Cancer Research UK chief clinician, explained:
This research highlights the great strides we are making in understanding the complex interplay between cancer and the body's immune system.
These studies are key to informing how we are best able to treat patients in the clinic and to design better drugs that make the best use of the body's own defences.
The killer T-cells destroy cancerous cells by blasting them with toxic proteins and patients found to have them were 10% more likely to live for five years or more than a breast cancer sufferer without them.
The association was seen in women with non-hormone sensitive breast cancer and cancers marked by especially active HER2 genes.
Lead researcher Dr Raza Ali, a lecturer at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, explained: "This important insight could help doctors personalise a woman's treatment based on her immunological profile and also suggests new treatments should harness the immune system to fight cancer."