Strengthening the tumor-fighting ability of T cells

Mar 24, 2008

Researchers may have found a new way to promote immune cell attack on tumors. The new study, by a team of scientists in Milan, Italy, will be published online on March 24 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New functions for 'junk' DNA?

Mar 31, 2014

DNA is the molecule that encodes the genetic instructions enabling a cell to produce the thousands of proteins it typically needs. The linear sequence of the A, T, C, and G bases in what is called coding ...

The promise and peril of nanotechnology

Mar 26, 2014

Scientists at Northwestern University have found a way to detect metastatic breast cancer by arranging strands of DNA into spherical shapes and using them to cover a tiny particle of gold, creating a "nano-flare" ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.