Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common Diabetes Drug May 'Revolutionize' Cancer Therapies: Unexpected T-cell Breakthrough

Date:
June 4, 2009
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a widely used anti-diabetic drug can boost the immune system and increase the potency of vaccines and cancer treatments.

Researchers at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that a widely used anti-diabetic drug can boost the immune system and increase the potency of vaccines and cancer treatments. Their findings will be published June 3 in the journal Nature.

The discovery was made by Dr. Russell Jones, an assistant professor at McGill's Goodman Cancer Centre and the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Yongwon Choi, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and postdoctoral fellow Erika Pearce, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. They discovered that the widely prescribed diabetes treatment metformin increases the efficiency of the immune system's T-cells, which in turn makes cancer and virus-fighting vaccines more effective.

The specialized white blood cells of the human immune system known as "T-cells" remember pathogens they have encountered from previous infections or vaccinations, enabling them to fight subsequent infections much faster. This "immunological memory" has been the subject of intense study for many years, but until now the underlying cellular mechanisms behind it were not well understood. Now, the researchers say, they can use diabetic therapies to manipulate T-cell response and enhance the immune system's response to infections and cancer alike.

"Many genes involved in diabetes regulation also play a role in cancer progression," Jones explained. "There is also a significant body of data suggesting that diabetics are more prone to certain cancers. However, our study is the first to suggest that by targeting the same metabolic pathways that play a role in diabetes, you can alter how well your immune system functions."

"We serendipitously discovered that the metabolizing, or burning, of fatty acids by T-cells following the peak of infection is critical to establishing immunological memory," Pearce added. "We used metformin, which is known to operate on fatty-acid metabolism, to enhance this process, and have shown experimentally in mice that metformin increases T-cell memory as well as the ensuing protective immunity of an experimental anti-cancer vaccine."

Few talk about cancer and diabetes in the same breath. However, recent advances have uncovered common links between cancer and diabetes, in particular how metabolic pathways, the basic chemical reactions that happen in our cells, are controlled in these diseases. The recent findings suggest a new link between the metabolic pathways deregulated in cancer and diabetes and their role in immune cell function. The results suggest that common diabetic therapies which alter cellular metabolism may enhance T-cell memory, providing a boost to the immune system. This could lead to novel strategies for vaccine and anti-cancer therapies.

"Our findings were unanticipated, but are potentially extremely important and could revolutionize current strategies for both therapeutic and protective vaccines," Choi said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Erika L. Pearce, Matthew C. Walsh, Pedro J. Cejas, Gretchen M. Harms, Hao Shen, Li-San Wang, Russell G. Jones & Yongwon Choi. Enhancing CD8 T-cell memory by modulating fatty acid metabolism. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature08097

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Common Diabetes Drug May 'Revolutionize' Cancer Therapies: Unexpected T-cell Breakthrough." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603131433.htm>.
McGill University. (2009, June 4). Common Diabetes Drug May 'Revolutionize' Cancer Therapies: Unexpected T-cell Breakthrough. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603131433.htm
McGill University. "Common Diabetes Drug May 'Revolutionize' Cancer Therapies: Unexpected T-cell Breakthrough." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603131433.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins