OCRFA Funded Study Explores New Role of Estrogen in Anti-Tumor Immunity

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Jose Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD

(October 31, 2016) Estrogen signaling is a known factor in how certain estrogen receptive (ER positive) tumors grow in breast and ovarian cancers. That signaling, which can promote malignant tumor growth, can sometimes be effectively treated with anti-estrogen therapy, such as tamoxifen. What is less understood, and currently being studied at the Wistar Institute, is how estrogen signaling could help to increase anti-tumor immunity and delay cancer progression. The same estrogen receptors found on ER positive tumors are also found on most immune cells, which means that, “the tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in determining malignant progression as well as response to therapy,” says lead author and former OCRFA grantee Jose Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD.

The article, originally published in Cancer Discovery, explains the potential value in offering combining anti-estrogen and immunotherapy techniques as a treatment option. “With the continued development of emerging immunotherapies to treat cancer, we believe that combination strategies could significantly extend the survival of cancer patients independently of estrogen receptors in tumor cells alone,” states Dr. Conejo-Garcia.

A summary of the study can be found in EurekAlert!

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