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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
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ISSN Imprimir: 1040-8401
ISSN En Línea: 2162-6472

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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.v20.i5.20
18 pages

Immune Cell Functions in Pancreatic Cancer

Janet M. D. Plate
Section of Medical Oncology, Rush Cancer Institute, Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612
Jules E. Harris
Section of Medical Oncology, Rush Cancer Institute, Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612


Pancreatic cancer kills nearly 29,000 people in the United States annually—as many people as are diagnosed with the disease. Chemotherapeutic treatment is ineffective in halting progression of the disease. Yet, specific immunity to pancreatic tumor cells in subjects with pancreatic cancer has been demonstrated repeatedly during the last 24 years. Attempts to expand and enhance tumor-specific immunity with biotherapy, however, have not met with success. The question remains, "Why can't specific immunity regulate pancreatic cancer growth?" The idea that tumor cells have evolved protective mechanisms against immunity was raised years ago and has recently been revisited by a number of research laboratories. In pancreatic cancer, soluble factors produced by and for the protection of the tumor environment have been detected and are often distributed to the victim's circulatory system where they may effect a more generalized immunosuppression. Yet the nature of these soluble factors remains controversial, since some also serve as tumor antigens that are recognized by the same T cells that may become inactivated by them. Unless the problem of tumor-derived immunosuppressive products is addressed directly through basic and translational research studies, successful biotherapeutic treatment for pancreatic cancer may not be forthcoming.

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