Lack of cytokines increases risk of breast tumors
UN/DICYT Close monitoring to chemotherapy treatments in patients with breast cancer identified an immunosuppression process (a deficiency in the immune system) in people that are just beginning treatment. David Bernal’ UNal Biomedical Sciences doctoral research project hopes to measure the effect of said treatment on the immune system. The project is also directed to discover lack of cytokine production in cancer patients.
By assessing cells in the bloodstream as well as their functional capability researchers can characterize this phenomenon with a method known as a flow cytometry. This is a cellular laser-based analysis technique for cell counting and sorting, in this particular case cytokines.
Patients diagnosed with cancer have a defect in cell breakage due to nonproduction of certain cytokines. Healthy people produce cytokines normally.
Bernal says certain types of tumors produce an effect to protect itself from the immune system and suppress it by means of several mechanisms. One of these mechanisms is producing certain proteins to suppress the immune system and alter the defense system.
Of 100,000 women who are tested for breast cancer in Colombia, 80 to 100 are diagnosed positively.
“Currently there is an increase in breast cancer in Colombia, due in part that the tools to diagnose cancer are more available than before,” said Bernal.
Nowadays science has developed several advancements and different types of treatments to face this disease. Apart from chemotherapy there is also hormone therapy and new drugs to practice immunotherapies. There are also new antibodies which are being used to block certain proteins and discover tumors, thus favoring their elimination.
The progress of this research project which is still in development was showcased during the 2014 National Meeting on Research and Development (ENID, for its Spanish acronym) recently held at the National Cancer Institute.