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A double agent in cancer: Deciphering macrophage roles in human tumors

Macrophages engulf microbes and cellular debris to protect us from disease and help repair wounded tissues. In cancer, they also infiltrate the tumor, but studies in humans and mice now uncover more sinister roles for these immune cells in cancer. In 'Bedside to Bench', Christiana Ruhrberg and Michele De Palma scrutinize a clinical study where the presence of macrophages correlates with a high risk of disease progression in people with Hodgkin's lymphoma, indicating a clinical value of macrophages as biomarkers of survival. The authors also emphasize how characterizing of the mechanisms by which subpopulations of macrophages promote tumor cell motility and angiogenesis might help in the development of antiangiogenic therapies to stop tumor progression. In 'Bench to Bedside', Joseph Qualls and Peter Murray examine a study that shows how stopping migration of macrophages into the tumor can impair tumor regrowth after radiation treatment.

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Figure 1: The quest for human TAM markers with prognostic and therapeutic value.

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Correspondence to Christiana Ruhrberg or Michele De Palma.

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Ruhrberg, C., De Palma, M. A double agent in cancer: Deciphering macrophage roles in human tumors. Nat Med 16, 861–862 (2010).

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