Important advance in the treatment of cancer and viral infections

Jan 18, 2009

Dr. André Veillette, a researcher at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), and his team led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Mario-Ernesto Cruz-Munoz, will publish in the upcoming issue of the prestigious journal Nature Immunology of Nature Publishing Group. This discovery could have a significant impact on the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. Current treatments frequently achieve only limited results with these types of diseases, which affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Dr. Veillette's team identified one of the basic mechanisms controlling NK ("natural killer") cell activity. Produced by the immune system, NK cells are responsible for recognizing and killing cancer cells and cells infected by viruses, such as viruses causing hepatitis and herpes. NK cell deficiency is associated with a higher incidence of cancers and serious infections.

"Our breakthrough, comments Dr. Veillette, demonstrates that a molecule known as CRACC, which is present at the surface of NK cells, increases their killer function." Using mice, the researchers have shown that CRACC greatly improves the animals' ability to eliminate cancer cells such as melanoma (a skin cancer) and lymphoma (a blood cancer). Mice lacking the CRACC gene, generated in Dr. Veillette's laboratory, were found to be more susceptible to cancer persistence. Conversely, stimulation of CRACC function was found to improve cancer cell elimination. Thus, stimulating CRACC could boost NK cell activity, helping to fight cancers. In addition, it could improve the ability to fight infections, which are also handled by NK cells.

Increasing the activity of CRACC by gene therapy or drugs could become an option in the future to stimulate the killer function of NK cells, and to improve their capacity to destroy cancer and virus-infected cells. These approaches could be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy to increase the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments. Teams of scientists around the world have been trying for many years without success to develop methods to increase NK cell activity. In this light, the discovery of Dr. Veillette's team opens new avenues for the treatment of cancers and viral infections.

This publication constitutes another significant milestone for Dr. Veillette, an internationally renowned immunologist. The article, which is slated for online publication on January 18 in Nature Immunology, gives undeniable evidence for the stimulatory effect of CRACC in NK cells. It is the product of over four years of intensive research by Dr. Veillette's team.

References for this article are available at: dx.doi.org/10.138/ni.1693 or www.nature.com/ni/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html

Source: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

Explore further: Discovery could lead to new cancer treatment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

Aug 22, 2014

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring ...

Сalculations with nanoscale smart particles

Aug 19, 2014

Researchers from the Institute of General Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences and MIPT have made an important step towards ...

Recommended for you

Discovery could lead to new cancer treatment

13 minutes ago

A team of scientists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine has reported the breakthrough discovery of a process to expand production of stem cells used to treat cancer patients. These findings could have implications ...

Is the HPV vaccine necessary?

6 hours ago

As the school year starts in full swing many parents wonder if their child should receive the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for girls ages 11-26 and boys 11-21. There are a lot of questions and controversy around this ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2009
The theory of "Hyperthermia" as a,(or THE), CAUSE OF CANCER needs to be explored! "Angiogenesis", for instance, MAY be the body's effort to COOL the cell! It a cinch that "Hypotherapudics" stands a chance at returning the malfunctioning cell to normal;!