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: Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

India launches biggest ever rocket into space

1 hour ago

India successfully launched its biggest ever rocket on Thursday, including an unmanned capsule which could one day send astronauts into space, as the country ramps up its ambitious space programme.

Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados form

1 hour ago

(AP)—Researchers say they've collected promising weather data by flying drones into big Western and Midwestern storms. Now they want to expand the project in hopes of learning how tornados form.

Recommended for you

Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'

2 hours ago

Turning the tables, Katherine Borden at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has evoked Star Trek's Borg in her fight against the disease. "Cancer cells rapidly ...

How does prostate cancer form?

4 hours ago

Prostate cancer affects more than 23,000 men this year in the USA however the individual genes that initiate prostate cancer formation are poorly understood. Finding an enzyme that regulates this process ...

Low risk of malignancy for small complex adnexal masses

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For older women with small complex adnexal masses, the overall risk of malignancy is low, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.