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 Scientists find new approach that shows promise for treating cystic fibrosis
14.03.2019 | NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

nachricht Lab grown ‘brains’ successfully model disease
13.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie

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: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

Im Focus: A thermo-sensor for magnetic bits

New concept for energy-efficient data processing technology

Scientists of the Department of Physics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, detected the magnetic states of atoms on a surface using only heat. The...

Im Focus: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene

Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Last year, researchers in the US caused a big stir when they showed that rotating two stacked graphene layers by a “magical” angle of 1.1 degrees turns...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

How heavy elements come about in the universe

18.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Robot arms with the flexibility of an elephant’s trunk

18.03.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Microbes can grow on nitric oxide (NO)

18.03.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>