LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have uncovered new details about how the immune system can recognize and kill cancer cells, unlocking potential new strategies to treat aggressive cancers.

Researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found certain immune cells can still fight cancer even when the cancer cells lack an important protein that the immune system relies on to help track down cancer cells, according to a release of the university on Tuesday.

The team discovered the absence of the crucial protein B2M seems to activate an alternative immune response involving natural killer (NK) cells and CD4+ T cells in both animal studies and patient tumor biopsies.

The findings indicate a potential backup mechanism in the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, according to the researchers.

"The unexpected critical role of NK and CD4+ T cells may be yet another way the immune system can combat certain types of tumors with the help of immune checkpoint blockade drugs," said Mildred Galvez at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA-Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program, and co-first author of the study.

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