Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but it can also trigger the immune system to repair the tumor that was supposed to be destroyed. After chemo has killed cancer cells in a tumor, white blood cells can cluster around the site in an attempt to heal the ‘wounded’ tumor. These white blood cells may actually be responsible for the re-growth of the tumor after treatment. But new research may be able to prevent this from happening.
The body is doing what it’s supposed to do- repairing tissue damage- but that’s not necessarily a good thing for the patient. By studying mice with cancer in the laboratory, researchers are working on a way to block the immune system from trying to ‘repair’ what really shouldn’t be repaired. The white blood cells in question are called M2 macrophages, and by giving mice a drug that stops these cells from working, researchers found that tumors grew back much more slowly after chemotherapy than without the drug.
Interesting research, and hopefully this will be able to translate into human results! Read more about it here.