Researchers reveal new mechanism to ‘activate’ the immune system against cancer
A new mechanism for activating the immune system against cancer cells allows immune cells to detect and destroy cancer cells better than before, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature.
The study was led by Prof. Nick Haining, of Harvard Medical School, and co-authored by Prof. Erez Levanon, doctoral student Ilana Buchumansky, of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, and an international team.
The focus of the study is a mechanism that routinely serves the cell by marking human virus-like genes in order to avoid identifying them as viruses. Now, Prof. Levanon, together with the Harvard team, has discovered that when inhibiting this mechanism, the immune system can be harnessed to fight cancer cells in a particularly efficient manner, and most effectively in lung cancer and melanoma.
“We found that if the mechanism is blocked, the immune system is much more sensitive. When the mechanism is deactivated, the immune system becomes much more aggressive against the tumor cells,” said Levanon.
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