Key Immune-System Process For Cancer Treatments Discovered

By Dialogo
August 12, 2009

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SEO Services Argentine scientists have discovered the mechanism that blocks the human immune system, a “key” to developing treatments for cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis, official sources announced. The group of researchers, led by Gabriel Rabinovich, discovered “the molecular gears” that cause the immune system to deactivate itself and allow, for example, the expansion of tumorous cells, according to a statement issued by the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet). The discovery is key to developing treatments for tumors or diseases like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or diabetes, among others, which occur when the immune system activates itself without reason to do so and attacks the patient’s own tissues, the researchers explained. “This circuit that can turn off the defense system is known as ‘immunological tolerance.’ Building up tolerance is crucially important to avoiding the development of autoimmune diseases and promoting the acceptance of transplants,” Conicet noted. Dr. Rabinovich and his team discovered that in the presence of a protein (galectin-1), so-called dendritic cells become capable of turning off and shutting down the defense system. These cells acquire the name of “tolerance-inducing dendritic cells,” due to their ability to induce immunological tolerance during this process, in which two other proteins, interleukin-27 and interleukin-10, also play a role. The production of this last protein (interleukin-10) may finally suppress the defense system’s response both in autoimmune diseases and in infections and tumors. “In light of these results, it should be possible to look forward to new therapeutic horizons for various immune pathologies,” emphasized Rabinovich, a member of the faculty at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s largest university. “Having identified a complete system of immune-response resolution allows us better understanding of the immune system and the possibility of manipulating it for our benefit,” added Juan Martín Ilarregui, another of the researchers. The study, published today by the British scientific journal Nature Immunology, began in 2003 with experiments using human and mouse cells. Specialists Diego Croci, Germán Bianco, Marta Toscano, Mariana Salatino, Jorge Geffner, Mónica Vermeulen, and Juan Stupirski also took part in the research.
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