Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


An unexpected bonus – blocking STAT3 could help cancer patients in two ways


The STAT transcription factors are involved in the development of many forms of cancer. STAT3 is frequently activated in tumour cells, so drugs targeting STAT3 could be used in cancer therapy.

However, STAT3 is also important in the development of the immune system. Dagmar Gotthardt and colleagues at the Vetmeduni Vienna now show that blocking STAT3 in cells of the immune system actually leads to increased anti-tumour immunity. Anti-STAT3 therapy may thus be highly promising.

Loss of STAT3 makes NK cells more efficient in recognizing and destroying melanoma cells. Additionally, the excretion of enzymes that fight leukemia cells is increased.

(Photo: Dagmar Gotthardt / Vetmeduni Vienna)

The so-called Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription, or STATs, are key components of many different signalling pathways. Not surprisingly, then, when something goes wrong with their regulation the consequences can be severe and many types of cancer are known to be associated with increased activities of one or more STAT protein.

STAT3 is a frequent culprit and is often found to be activated in tumour cells. Considerable efforts are going into developing inhibitors of STAT3 for use in cancer therapy but it is unclear whether these will turn out to be suitable for use in patients.

The problem is that STAT3 is not all bad but has a number of crucial functions in the healthy body. In particular it is important for the development of several kinds of cells of the immune system. The intriguingly named Natural Killer (NK) cells represent the first line of defence against viruses and cancer, to which they react by producing a range of proteins that attack the infected cells.

It is important to investigate how this key component of the body’s own anti-cancer defence mechanisms might respond to the inactivation of STAT3.

The issue has been tackled by Dagmar Gotthardt and colleagues in the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna). Surprisingly, the loss of STAT3 in NK cells of the mouse led not to a decrease but to an increase in killing activity against melanoma cells and leukaemia cells. The decrease in metastasis caused by melanoma cells was especially dramatic and confirmed that NK cells lacking STAT3 are extremely efficient killers of tumour cells.

Gotthardt is naturally excited by the finding. As she says, “we were expecting the loss of STAT3 to make the NK cells less efficient. Instead it makes them even more potent killers. Inhibiting STAT3 could thus help cancer patients in two ways, both stopping the cancer cells from dividing and helping the patients’ NK cells to fight them more efficiently.”


The article “Loss of STAT3 in murine NK cells enhances NK cell-dependent tumor surveillance”, by Dagmar Gotthardt, Eva M. Putz, Elisabeth Straka, Petra Kudweis, Mario Baggio, Valeria Poli, Birgit Strobl, Mathias Müller and Veronika Sexl was published online on the 9th of October in the journal Blood. DOI:

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms.

Scientific Contact:
Prof. Veronika Sexl
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-2910


Dagmar Gotthardt
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-2900

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>