A molecule central to chronic autoimmune diseases also promotes the incidence and growth of tumours, show Martin Oft and his colleagues in a study to be published online this week by Nature.
Doctors have suspected for more than a century that the inflammation associated with tumours also regulates their growth. Oft’s team find one such link: they show that interleukin-23 (IL-23), a cytokine already implicated in inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune disorders, is also central to cancer development.
The researchers show that many human tumours make excess IL-23. Blocking IL-23 in mice - using genetic engineering or an antibody - protects against carcinogens because protective T cells are better able to infiltrate transformed tissue and kill pre-cancerous cells. The results suggest that antibodies that block IL-23 might help these cytotoxic T cells invade and treat human tumours.
Martin Oft (Schering-Plough Biopharma, Palo Alto, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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