The immune system is thought to protect people from tumor development. Paradoxically, this very defense system that patrols the body for cancer cells also promotes the emergence of tumors that escape immune cell attack and eradication. In the July 2005 issue of Nature Immunology, scientists report that type I interferon, a chemical messenger, is an important component of this process, now called 'cancer immunoediting'.
Robert Schreiber and colleagues show that type I interferon is required for the prevention of the growth of tumor cells. Type I interferon, which often acts as a 'first alert', is closely related to another chemical mediator, interferon-gamma, previously associated with cancer immunoediting. However, unlike IFN-gamma, which can attack tumor cells directly, type I interferon seems to act on cells of the immune system. The identity and exact effects of type I interferon on these cells are unclear at present.
Robert D Schreiber (Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA)
Additional contact for comment on the paper:
Mark Smyth (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victoria, Australia)
Also published online(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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