In a newly published study, researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center find that unique immune cells, called resident memory T cells, do an outstanding job of preventing melanoma. The work began with the question of why patients with melanoma who develop the autoimmune disease called vitiligo, have such a good prognosis. Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition against normal healthy melanocytes, which causes the loss of skin pigmentation in blotches. Using mouse models of melanoma and vitiligo, the research team found that resident memory T cells permanently reside in vitiligo-affected skin, where they kill melanoma cells. Although resident memory T cells were previously known to prevent skin viral infection, it was not known that they could fight tumors.
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