US Pharm. 2013;38(1):HS-18.

Tumor cells use stress signals to subvert responding immune cells, exploiting them to enhance conditions for cancer growth, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The findings were published in the December 18 online issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers found that tumor cells manipulate the unfolded protein response (UPR), which is used to maintain homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the cell’s protein-making factory. When a cell is subjected to overwork, ER stress occurs and a compensatory UPR is triggered.

“The goal is to understand how ER stress is transmitted and how this is amplified by receiver cells to attack vulnerable aspects of the immune system,” said principal investigator Maurizio Zanetti, MD. “These findings suggest that the tumor UPR should be a target of therapy, not only for its intrinsic function in promoting tumor adaption and survival, but now for its external role in subverting the anti-tumor immune response.”