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Protein discovery opens door to fighting cancer using the body's own immune system

Published on Sep 18, 2013 2:22 PM
 

Scientists here have discovered how to sabotage the ability of cancer cells to hide from the body's immune system, paving the way to better harness the body's own defences against the disease.

The lack of a protein on the surface of cancer-causing cells helps to camouflage the disease from the body's immune system, according to the research by the Singapore Immunology Network, which falls under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star). This discovery opens a new avenue to a new method of treating cancer - that is, by developing drugs that activate this protein, for example.

The cancer-causing cells being studied here contains the p53 gene. While the gene's primary purpose is to coordinate cancer-fighting mechanisms in the body, it can also cause cancer when it gets mutated.

Said Associate Professor Laurent Rénia said, the acting executive director of the Singapore Immunology Network: "The team has uncovered a new door to manipulate one of the most studied yet enigmatic cancer-associated genes of our times. I am confident that this work will pave the way for more targeted, efficient and cost-effective treatment for the millions of cancer patients globally."