September 3, 2019
A subset of white blood cells known as macrophages play a central role in the ridding the body of unwanted cellular threats. However, some microenvironments can render macrophages inactive. Chen Lab researchers, in collaboration with investigators at the University of Southampton, set out to combat bone marrow-resident tumors that are generally resistant to treatment. They demonstrated that low doses of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy activated macrophages when combined with therapeutic antibodies. The combination cleared bone marrow-resident tumor cells, such as B cell lymphoma and breast cancers. The results, published in Cancer Immunotherapy Research, suggest that treating cancer patients with low-dose chemotherapy will not only kill tumor cells directly, but could also aid in immunotherapy via macrophage activation in resistant organs. The immunotherapeutic potential of macrophages was featured in the KI’s 2016 Image Awards exhibition.