“Normal cells put up a ‘don’t-eat-me’ molecular flag that is recognized by immune cells, thereby preventing the destruction of normal tissues. But some cancers have also developed the ability to mimic normal cells and produce this ‘don’t eat me’ signal. As a consequence, the immune system fails to recognize cancer as a defective tissue and leaves it alone, which is bad news for the patient,” added Chabu.
Immunotherapies are cancer drugs that essentially block the “don’t-eat-me” signal coming from cancer and allow the immune system to kill it.
Chabu, whose appointment is in the College of Arts and Science, said while these immunotherapies work for certain types of cancers, prostate cancer is highly immunosuppressive, meaning cancer’s physical and molecular environments simply overpower the body’s immune system.