New Immune Cell Type Discovered in Breast Tissue Could Provide New Insights for Cancer Therapy

May 07, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 4-5 minutes

Fresh from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN), here is an interesting Biotech article for you:

Breast cancer researchers in Australia have discovered a new type of immune cell in breast tissue that helps to keep mammary ducts healthy. Using advanced three-dimensional imaging techniques, the scientists, headed by a team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, discovered that these ductal macrophages (DMs) monitor for threats in the mouse mammary ducts and help to maintain tissue health by clearing away dying milk-producing cells once lactation stops. As well as being the sites where milk is produced and transported, mammary ducts are also where most breast cancers arise.

The authors suggest that understanding how these immune cells function could provide valuable insights into potential new approaches to treating breast cancer. “We discovered an entirely new population of specialized immune cells, which we named ductal macrophages, squeezed in between two layers of the mammary duct wall,” said Caleb Dawson, PhD, co-senior and first author of the team’s paper, which is published in Nature Cell Biology, in a report titled, “Tissue-resident ductal macrophages survey the mammary epithelium and facilitate tissue remodeling.”

Dawson’s colleagues on the research included Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists Geoff Lindeman, PhD, Jane Visvader, PhD, along with Anne Rios, PhD, who is now based at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, in the Netherlands.

The mammary gland is a dynamic organ that undergoes dramatic remodeling throughout life, the authors explained. The branching ducts bloom to form milk-producing alveoli during lactation, which must then be eliminated once milk production stops. Mammary ducts are of particular interest to breast cancer researchers because this site is prone to cancer development.

Most organs in the body including the brain, liver, lung, skin, and intestine have t... Read more at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) Blog.

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