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[2014/12/22]The NYMU-TVGH Cancer Immunology Research Team Discovers the Mechanism for Remodeling the Tumor Microenvironments in Head and Neck Cancer

[2014/12/22]

The NYMU-TVGH Cancer Immunology Research Team Discovers the Mechanism for Remodeling the Tumor Microenvironments in Head and Neck Cancer

The National Yang-Ming University-Taipei Veterans General Hospital (NYMU-TVGH) cancer immunology research team recently discovers an important finding in head and neck cancer microenviromental remodeling. On 10th December, 2014, the group revealed their results in a press conference held in National Yang-Ming University.

Cancer immunology is a rapidly developing field in both basic biology and clinical oncology. In recent years, the breakthrough in cancer immunology leads to the successful development of the therapeutic agents targeting tumor microenvironments. However, the interaction between the highly invasive cancer cells and the host immune cells during the metastatic process, and whether cancer cells are able to govern the microenvironments when becoming more malignant, is still unclear. Dr. Muh-Hwa Yang and his research team recently discovered that during epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a critical process for cancer metastasis, the metastatic inducer Snail is acetylated under the triggering of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha). The TNF alpha-acetylated Snail signal loop modulates the cancer-secreted cytokines, which results in recruiting tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). The Snail-induced macrophages recruitment promotes cancer progression and metastasis. Analysis of the tumor samples from head and neck cancer patients showed that expression of acetylated Snail in tumor cells is associated with TAMs in tumor samples. Patients with high acetylated Snail and TAMs in their tumors had a worse outcome than those with low acetylated Snail and TAMs. This paper has been published in the October issue of Cancer Cell this year.

The NYMU-TVGH cancer immunology research team is a multidisciplinary team composed of members with different specialties. The members include Dr. Muh-Hwa Yang, the professor of Institute of Clinical Medicine of National Yang-Ming University and also the attending physician of Division of Hematology-Oncology of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, is the expert of cancer biology and medical oncology; Dr. Nien-Jung Chen, the associate professor of Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, is the expert of basic immunology; Dr. Shyh-Kuan Tai, the professor of Faculty of Medicine of National Yang-Ming University and also the attending physician of Otolaryngology of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, is the expert of head and neck cancer surgery; and Dr. Dennis Shin-Shian Hsu, the postdoctoral researcher of Institute of Clinical Medicine of National Yang-Ming University. They took the advantage of applying different strategies to investigate the role of acetylated Snail in host-cancer interplay, including gene knockout mice, patient samples analysis, and molecular biology experiments.

Dr. Yang explained that this finding is valuable in both scientific and clinical aspects. Scientifically, they identified the critical mechanism for host-cancer interaction. Clinically, the result provides the important information for the future development of strategies to target the "soil" of the malignant tumors for treating advanced cancer patients.

President Liang of NYMU, Vice President Ho of VGH, and the NYMU-VGH cancer immunology research team in the press conference

President Liang of NYMU(left 3), Vice President Ho of VGH(right 3), and the NYMU-VGH cancer immunology research team in the press conference


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