Scientists have discovered a new type of macrophage that helps maintain tissue health and may be closely related to breast cancer.
Scientists at the University of Melbourne, Australia, have discovered a new type of immune cell that specializes in keeping the breast duct healthy. The breast duct is responsible for carrying the milk from the breast lobules to the nipples.
Thanks to 3D images, the researchers were able to observe how these macrophages look for threats in these ducts and work to keep them healthy and clean, absorbing dead cells after the end of lactation.
The authors of the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology, are convinced that understanding how these cells work is essential to finding new ways to treat breast cancer.
“As cancer grows, these macrophages also increase in number. We suspect that there’s the potential for ductal macrophages to inadvertently dampen the body’s immune response, which would have dangerous implications for the growth and spread of cancer in these already prone sites,” explains Caleb Dawson, one of the authors of the research.
Now, the team will work to find out how to block the activity of these macrophages, as they believe this could be a therapy against breast cancer.