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Strengthening The Tumor-fighting Ability Of T Cells

Date:
March 24, 2008
Source:
Journal of Experimental Medicine
Summary:
Researchers may have found a new way to promote immune cell attack on tumors. When faced with cancer, the immune system dispatches cells, called T cells, to kill the tumor. But these killer cells often fail to completely eliminate the tumor because they're deactivated by a distinct population of T cells known as regulatory T cells.

Researchers may have found a new way to promote immune cell attack on tumors.

When faced with cancer, the immune system dispatches cells, called T cells, to kill the tumor. But these killer cells often fail to completely eliminate the tumor because they're deactivated by a distinct population of T cells known as regulatory T cells.

Past attempts to get rid of these regulatory T cells have largely failed, in part because they share many features with the killer T cells, making it difficult to eliminate one population without also eliminating the other.

In the new study, the researchers focused on a cell-surface protein called OX40 that had previously been shown (in culture dishes) to turn off the regulatory T cells, but turn on the killer T cells. When this protein was activated in mice, the new study shows, the animals eliminated existing tumors and were protected against developing new ones.

The potential drawback of this approach is that selective inhibition of regulatory T cells could provoke naturally self-reactive T cells to attack the body's own tissues (autoimmunity). The mice in the study, however, showed no signs of autoimmune disease, suggesting that OX40 may be a promising target for anti-cancer therapy.

The new study, by a team of scientists in Milan, Italy, will be published online on March 24 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Experimental Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Journal of Experimental Medicine. "Strengthening The Tumor-fighting Ability Of T Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080324090555.htm>.
Journal of Experimental Medicine. (2008, March 24). Strengthening The Tumor-fighting Ability Of T Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080324090555.htm
Journal of Experimental Medicine. "Strengthening The Tumor-fighting Ability Of T Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080324090555.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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