Forgot Password

Sign In


  • Company Information

  • Billing Address

  • Are you primarily interested in advertising *

  • Do you want to recieve the HealthTimes Newsletter?

Immune cell find brings cancer cure closer

Cancer cell
Photo: Cancer Cell Illustration
Researchers have identified a protein that is vital for boosting the body's natural killers cells, which are the first line of defense against cancer.

An immune cell discovery by Melbourne researchers has brought scientists one step closer in their hunt for a cancer cure.

Melbourne scientists have identified a specific protein that can boost the body's so-called natural killer cells.

These cells are a type of white blood cell that were first identified for their ability to kill tumour cells without immunisation or activation.

The study's authors - based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute - investigated the potential for turning the focus of natural killer cells towards melanoma cells that had spread to the lungs.

The research team identified that a protein called MCL-1 was "absolutely essential" for keeping natural killer cells alive - and showed melanoma cells that had spread to the lungs were fatal in mice that were engineered to no longer produce MCL-1.

"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," said Dr Nick Huntington, co-author of the study published in Nature Communications.

The researchers showed that natural killer cells also played a role in death from septic shock - what happens as a complication of an infection where toxins can initiate a full-body inflammatory response - 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."

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.

Copyright AAP 2014


Thanks, you've subscribed!

Share this free subscription offer with your friends

Email to a Friend

  • Remaining Characters: 500