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Oncostatin M may be a promising drug for treating viral hepatitis and liver cancer

The Department of Gene Therapy and Hepatology of the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra has identified a molecule as possibly effective for improving the treatment of chronic hepatitis and liver cancer.

This research, coordinated by the doctors Jesús Prieto, Esther Larrea, Pablo Sarobe, Iranzu González and Rafael Aldabe, has been published in the Journal of Virology; a journal of the American Society of Microbiology.

When organisms suffer a viral infection, dendritic cells (natural proteins produced as a response of the immune system to foreign agents) release type I interferon. The researchers of the CIMA observed that dendritic cells also produced Oncostatin M. "What was remarkable was the evidence that Oncostatin improved the effect of interferon in inhibiting the replication of viruses as well as noticeably increasing the antiviral response of the immune system", said Dr. Jesús Prieto.

These findings suggest that the combination of both molecules may be useful for treating viral diseases that do not respond to isolated treatment with interferon, something which occurs in patients with viral B or C chronic hepatitis. "In addition, it is possible that this combination could be effective for designing strategies against different tumor processes in which conventional therapy is unsuccessful", suggested Dr. Prieto.

The Center for Applied Medical Research has patented this therapeutic formula, based on the combination of type I interfon and oncostatin for oncology treatment and antiviral therapy. Its development for clinical application is being carried out by the Spanish biotechnology company Digna Biotech.

Oihane Lakar Iraizoz | alfa
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