Inflammation Plays Role in Starting, Stopping Cancer

Researchers find sensitized immune system can work both ways

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MONDAY, Sept. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The immune system's inflammatory response tends to help promote cancer tumors, but researchers at the University of California, San Diego believe that response could be used to attack cancer as well.

Scientists found that when they inhibited a key pro-inflammatory protein called nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), they increased the effectiveness of a cancer-killing protein called TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, or TRAIL.

TRAIL is activated in response to inflammation, but in laboratory experiments with mice the protein was proven to kill cancer cells rather than promote them, the researchers said.

The doctors recommend that future research focus on ways to develop drugs to reduce the harmful effects of inflammation and block inflammation-induced tumor growth, clearing the way for TRAIL to initiate tumor killing.

The research is published in the Sept. 20 issue of Cancer Cell.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about cancer prevention and control.

SOURCES: University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, news release, Sept. 20, 2004

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