Melbourne researchers have revealed the critical importance of highly specialised immune cells, called natural killer cells, in killing melanoma cells that have spread to the lungs.
These natural killer cells could be harnessed to hunt down and kill cancers that have spread in the body.
Melbourne researchers have revealed the critical importance of highly specialized immune cells, called natural killer cells, in killing melanoma cells that have spread to the lungs. These natural killer cells could be harnessed to hunt down and kill cancers that have spread in the body. Dr. Nick Huntington (left), Rebecca Delconte (center) and Dr. Priyanka Sathe led the team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia.
Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
The team, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, also found natural killer cells were critical to the body's rejection of donor bone marrow transplants and in the runaway immune response during toxic shock syndrome.
The discoveries came after the team showed that a protein called MCL-1 was crucial for survival of natural killer cells, in research published today in the journal Nature Communications. The discovery will help to determine how natural killer cells can be manipulated to fight cancers and other disorders.
Dr Nick Huntington, Dr Priyanka Sathe and Ms Rebecca Delconte from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said MCL-1 could be a target for boosting or depleting natural killer cell populations to treat disease. Natural killer cells are immune predators, scouring the body in search of foreign invaders such as viruses, and sensing changes in our own cells that are associated with cancer.
Dr Huntington said the team showed natural killer cells were needed to fight off invading tumour cells that had spread past the original cancer site.
"We discovered MCL-1 is absolutely essential for keeping natural killer cells alive," Dr Huntington said. "Without natural killer cells, the body was unable to destroy melanoma metastases that had spread throughout the body, and the cancers overwhelmed the lungs".
"Knowing how important natural killer cells are for detecting and destroying cancer cells as they spread suggests they would be a good target for boosting immune defenses to treat cancer."
Natural killer cells are present in high frequency in our blood and patrol the body's 'frontlines' – the lungs, intestines, mucous membranes and skin – to detect and destroy diseased cells. However these predatory natural killer cells are a double-edged sword.
Dr Huntington said the team showed natural killer cells also played a role in death from toxic shock (sepsis), and in rejecting bone marrow transplants.
"Natural killer cells led the response that caused rejection of donor stem cells in bone marrow transplantations," Dr Huntington said. "They also produced inflammatory signals that can result in toxic shock syndrome, a potentially fatal illness caused by bacterial toxins that causes a whole-body inflammatory reaction."
Dr Huntington said the discovery provided a solid lead to look for ways of boosting natural killer cells when they are needed in higher supply, or depleting them when they are causing illness.
"We showed MCL-1 levels inside the cell increase in response to a blood cell signalling protein called interleukin 15 (IL-15). We previously knew IL-15 boosted production and survival of natural killer cells, and we have shown that IL-15 does this by initiating a cascade of signals that tell the natural killer cell to produce MCL-1 to keep it alive."
"Now that we know the critical importance of MCL-1 in the survival of natural killer cells, we are investigating how we might manipulate this protein, or other proteins in the pathway, to treat disease," Dr Huntington said.
The research was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, The Menzies Foundation and the Victorian Government.
Liz Williams | Eurek Alert!
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences