Dendritic Cells (DCs) were discovered by Steinman in 1973 as antigen presenting cells. They are present throughout the body and are vital for activating the immune system. DCs continuously monitor their surroundings for cancer cells or any other danger signals. Once they find such signals they are activated and undergo maturation, specifically against that signal and migrate to nearest lymph node. There, they activate primary T-cells and also B-cells, which then deduct and eliminate the cancer cells. Thus, DCs are mainstay of immunosurveillance.
Cancer develops when such immunosurveillance fails. During the process of initial development of cancer called carcinogenesis, cancer cells escape recognition by DCs and immune system is not activated or silenced against these cancer cells. These cancer cells then start proliferation and tumour is formed which grow in size and spread to other parts of the body.
Dendritic cell vaccination is aimed to correct this problem of immune system. To do this, mononuclear cells are taken out of person suffering from cancer by a technique called ‘apheresis’. They are then grown in the lab and loaded with cancer antigens and then matured to cancer specific DCs. These DCs have potential to eliminate cancer cells by activating the T-cells and B-cells of immune system.
Steinman RM, Cohn Za. Identification of a novel cell type in peripheral lymphoid organs of mice. I. Morphology, quantitation, tissue distribution. J Exp Med. (1973) 137:1142-62
Banchereau J, Steinman RM. Dendritic cells and the control of immunity. Nature (1998) 392:245-52.doi:10.1038/32588
Wirth TC, Harty JT, Badovinac VP. Modulating numbers and phenotype of CD8+ T cells in secondary immune responses. Eur J Immunol. (2010) 40:1916-26.doi:10.1002/eji.201040310
Wouter W.van Willigen et al. Radbound University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Dendritic Cell Therapy: Vaccinating the right patient at the right time. Front. Immunol., 01 October 2018

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