Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers release the brakes on the immune system

18.10.2017

Many tumors possess mechanisms to avoid destruction by the immune system. For instance, they misuse the natural “brakes” in the immune defense mechanism, which normally prevent an excessive immune response. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now been able to take off one of these brakes. The study, which involved colleagues from Hamburg and Würzburg, could pave the way for more effective cancer therapies. It is being published in the journal Cell Reports.

Killer T cells are a powerful weapon of the immune system. Following a viral infection, for instance, they swarm out in huge numbers and destroy all of the infected body cells. Their destructive power is also directed towards cancer cells – at least in principle. Many tumors have actually developed mechanisms that allow them to outmaneuver this defensive weapon.


Dr. Janine Gotot, Prof. Christian Kurts and Christoph Heuser (from left) analyzing the immunological data.

(c) Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

To do this, abuse the so-called regulatory T cells, for example. These are also part of the immune system, but fulfill an opposite function there: they suppress the immune response and thus prevent killer T cells from attacking healthy tissue in the body.

Tumors exploit this by pretending to belong to the body’s own tissue. They can thus be protected to a certain degree by the regulatory T cells. “We have now found a way to kill off the regulatory T cells,” explains Christoph Heuser, a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Bonn. “We were thus able to significantly increase the impact of the killer T cells.”

The study focuses on a protein produced naturally in the body called IKKβ, which has been known for long to promote the activation of immune cells. It is thus considered an immunostimulant. “We have now blocked IKKβ in a test tube with the help of a pharmaceutical ingredient,” says Heuser’s colleague Dr. Janine Gotot. “The regulatory T cells died off afterward. However, the killer T cells survived and even gained in impact because they were no longer inhibited by the regulatory T cells.”

The researchers then tested using mice with skin cancer whether the IKKß inhibitor could be suitable for tumor treatment. This cancer is nowadays treated by vaccination and by immunotherapies, but these measures are often not effective enough. However, the researchers treated the rodents with the IKKß inhibitor shortly after the vaccination. Following around two weeks of treatment, the number of regulatory T cells fell by half. The response of the killer T cells to the tumor was correspondingly stronger. The cancer growth was delayed significantly by this, and the animals survived for longer.

Combination therapy against tumors

“Nevertheless, complete healing cannot be achieved solely by inhibiting IKKß,” relativized Prof. Christian Kurts, Director of the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Bonn. “By combining with other immunological active pharmaceutical ingredients, it may, however, be possible to stimulate the immune system to more effectively combat the cancer.”

The regulatory T cells are actually only one element among many others with which the body keeps its immune cells in check. Experts also refer to these braking mechanisms as “immunological checkpoints”. In recent years, the researchers have succeeded in releasing these brakes using suitable inhibiting substances (the “checkpoint inhibitors”). “This approach has already revolutionized the treatment of cancer,” says Kurts. The University of Bonn is heavily involved in the development and clinical testing of such therapies, including as part of the center for integrated oncology (CIO), the cluster of excellence ImmunoSensation and the German-Australian research training group Bo&MeRanG.

Publication: Christoph Heuser, Janine Gotot, Eveline C. Piotrowski, Marie-Sophie Philipp, Christina Johanna Felicia Courrèges, Martin Sylvester Otte, Linlin Guo, Jonathan Leo Schmid-Burgk, Veit Hornung, Annkristin Heine, Percy Alexander Knolle, Natalio Garbi, Edgar Serfling, César Evaristo, Friedrich Thaiss, Christian Kurts: Prolonged IKKβ inhibition improves ongoing CTL antitumor responses by incapacitating regulatory T cells

Contact:

Prof. Christian Kurts
Director of the Institute of Experimental Immunology
University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0)228/28711051
E-mail: ckurts@uni-bonn.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.09.082 Publication

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

Further reports about: Immunology T cells brakes immune cells immune system treatment of cancer tumors vaccination

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>