Accumulating research suggests that the best possible treatments for cancer will not simply target and kill cancerous cells but will also work by making the neighboring cells—the so-called tumor microenvironment—behave more normally.
“Most people recognize that cancer is not just a ball of malignant cells. It’s a complex rogue organ,” says Frances Balkwill, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London. “At least half the tumor isn’t made up of malignant cells at all. It’s all the other cells of the host, particularly immune system cells, fibroblasts, and blood vessel cells, that are recruited and often corrupted by the malignant cells to help the tumor itself grow and spread.”
Dr. Balkwill and her group study the role of tumor microenvironment signaling proteins—cytokines and chemokines—in human high-grade serous ovarian cancer. One of their targets is the cytokine receptor interleukin 6 (IL-6), a known tumor promoter. Read more