Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Boosting killer cells might improve breast-cancer drug

17.07.2006
Preliminary research suggests that a drug that targets a particular type of breast cancer might be more effective if patients are also given a substance made by the body that stimulates certain immune cells.

The laboratory and animal study suggests that the substance interleukin 21 (IL-21) might improve the effectiveness of the drug Herceptin. The findings suggest that this happens because the IL-21 boosts the cancer-killing activity of immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells, which attack the tumor.

The findings by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute are published in the July 1 issue of The Journal of Immunology. The researchers hope to begin a clinical trial to test the strategy in humans soon.

Herceptin is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer -- about 20 percent of all breast-cancer cases. HER2 breast cancers have a protein called HER2 on the surface of the tumor cells. Herceptin attaches to the HER2 protein and coats the cells.

The findings indicate that IL-21 stimulates NK cells to attack and destroy the Herceptin-coated cells.

“Only 25 to 35 percent of patients with this form of breast cancer respond to Herceptin,” says principal investigator William E. Carson, III, associate professor of surgery and associate director for clinical research at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center .

“Our results suggest that giving IL-21 along with the Herceptin might increase the patient's immune response to the tumor and perhaps boost the drug's effectiveness.”

Many researchers believe that Herceptin works because it stops tumor cells from growing and causes them to self-destruct through a natural process called programmed cell death, explains first author Julie M. Roda, a graduate research associate in Carson 's laboratory.

But, Roda says, “our findings provide new evidence that Herceptin works at least in part by stimulating NK cells activity, and that IL-21 enhances that action.”

Carson, Roda and their collaborators chose to study IL-21 because the substance is known to activate NK cells and causes them to release substances that attract other immune cells to a tumor site.

This study's findings came from several experiments. First, the scientists exposed NK cells in Petri dishes to both Herceptin and IL-21. This caused the cells to release three to 10 times more of a substance called interferon gamma than would cells exposed to either agent alone.

Interferon gamma is an immune-system signaling agent that causes the NK cells to become more active. It also increases the activity of other immune cells and forces tumor cells to self-destruct.

The researchers then repeated this experiment in mice. They found that animals given both IL-21 and Herceptin-coated tumor cells had nearly three times more interferon gamma in their blood than did animals injected with either of those items alone.

Still another experiment used mice with HER2-positive tumors. When the animals were treated with both the mouse version of Herceptin and IL-21, the tumors shrunk by nearly half compared to those in mice receiving either agent alone.

Last, to test whether the interferon gamma was important for causing the tumors to shrink, the researchers repeated this experiment using mice that cannot make the substance.

The researchers were surprised to find that when interferon gamma was missing, the mouse drug and IL-21 combination had no effect on the tumors.

“We thought if we took out interferon gamma, the NK cells would still be able to kill the tumor cells,” Roda says.

But that didn't happen

“This is very interesting because it suggests that interferon gamma production might be critical to the response to Herceptin, and I believe that we are the first to show this.”

Overall, says Carson , “Our results suggest that IL-21 might enhance the effectiveness of Herceptin, and perhaps similar anticancer drugs.”

Funding from the National Cancer Institute supported this research.

Darrell E. Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osumc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new tool for discovering nanoporous materials

23.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Two New Giants Discovered in Tiny Madagascar Rainforest

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Did you know that packaging is becoming intelligent through flash systems?

23.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>