Two Cancer Fighters Are Better Than One

Researchers find type of interferon boosts powers of tumor-suppressor gene

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WEDNESDAY, July 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- There may be a powerful synergy between two molecules known for their anti-cancer actions, says a Japanese study in the July 16 online issue of Nature.

Using cultured cells, the researchers found type I interferon enhances the activity of the tumor-suppressor gene called p53.

When a cell is stressed, it can activate its p53 reserves and commit suicide. The researchers hypothesize that this same mechanism may occur in the cells of cancer patients treated with interferon.

The body can produce interferon in response to viral infection, which also seems to boost p53 levels, the study says. The joint activity of interferon and p53 may be a mechanism whereby viruses can inadvertently trigger cell death.

The researchers say their finding may help explain the beneficial effects of type I interferon against cervical and hepatic cancer.

Current chemotherapy drugs can cause a number of unpleasant side effects. The Japanese study suggests lower doses of these chemotherapy drugs could be prescribed with type I interferon to offer cancer patients an effective, less toxic treatment.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about interferon.

SOURCE: Nature, news release, July 16, 2003

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