Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Enzyme revealed as promising target to treat asthma, cancer

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
An enzyme involved in the regulation of immune system T cells that could be a useful target in treating asthma and boosting the effects of certain cancer therapies, report scientists, citing results of a recent mouse study. By untangling the different effects of SKG1, researchers have advanced efforts to fine-tune immune responses in patients. "We're not suppressing or exacerbating the immune system, we're regulating it," the lead author noted. "We're regulating it to do exactly what we want it to do."

In experiments with mice, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists have identified an enzyme involved in the regulation of immune system T cells that could be a useful target in treating asthma and boosting the effects of certain cancer therapies.

In research described online April 6 in Nature Immunology, the investigators show that mice without the enzyme SKG1 were resistant to dust mite-induced asthma. And mice with melanoma and missing the enzyme, developed far fewer lung tumors -- less than half as many -- than mice with SKG1.

"If we can develop a drug that blocks the enzyme in a way that mimics what happens when the enzyme is missing, we would not only have a treatment to inhibit asthma, but also a drug that could be used in conjunction with other experimental therapies aimed at helping the immune system fight cancer," said Jonathan D. Powell, M.D., professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The unusual dual potential of an SKG1-blocking compound stems from the enzyme's role in a key pathway linked to T cells, which act as either "generals" of the immune system by directing how the system works, or "soldiers" that seek and destroy foreign cells.

Powell and his colleagues decided to look at SKG1 because it works along the same pathway of a protein called mTOR, a focus of their previous research. The mTOR pathway helps T cells decipher signals from their environment, and prompts the cells to transform into specific T cell types.

As part of this pathway, SKG1 dials down production of a signaling protein called interferon-gamma. When SKG1 is inactive, T cells produce increased amounts of interferon-gamma that appear to be useful in fighting tumor cells.

Powell said that a SKG1-blocking drug might be used in conjunction with other cancer immunotherapies as a sort of booster medication to enhance their effects. Experimental cancer immunotherapies, including vaccines and so-called checkpoint blockade inhibitors, are the focus of intense research within the past few years, he added.

The researchers also discovered that SKG1 promotes the production of T helper 2 cells, which become overactive in asthma and other allergies in a sort of runaway case of inflammation. Finding a drug that could shut down SKG1 could help block the inflammation that causes asthma and other allergic reactions.

By untangling the different effects of SKG1, Powell said, his team has advanced efforts to fine-tune immune responses in patients. "We're not suppressing or exacerbating the immune system, we're regulating it," he noted. "We're regulating it to do exactly what we want it to do."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Emily B Heikamp, Chirag H Patel, Sam Collins, Adam Waickman, Min-Hee Oh, Im-Hong Sun, Peter Illei, Archna Sharma, Aniko Naray-Fejes-Toth, Geza Fejes-Toth, Jyoti Misra-Sen, Maureen R Horton, Jonathan D Powell. The AGC kinase SGK1 regulates TH1 and TH2 differentiation downstream of the mTORC2 complex. Nature Immunology, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ni.2867

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Enzyme revealed as promising target to treat asthma, cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410153511.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2014, April 10). Enzyme revealed as promising target to treat asthma, cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410153511.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Enzyme revealed as promising target to treat asthma, cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410153511.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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