Cancer: the latest inflammatory disease

New research suggests that some aggressive forms of cancer might respond to a powerful class of anti-inflammatory drugs. The drugs—called JAK inhibitors—suppress cells from communicating with each other using a class of molecules called cytokines, and they’re currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, which are autoimmune diseases. Cytokines are important for controlling the body’s immune response, and also for regulating cell growth—a process that runs amok in the case of rapidly multiplying cancer cells. In so-called “triple negative” breast cancer, two of the most important inhibitors of cell growth, enzymes called ARF and p53, don’t function.

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered that the combined loss of ARF and p53 allows one of the body’s immune response mechanisms—originally evolved as an antiviral defense—to become activated, producing cytokines that instruct the cancer cells to grow and spread. This is where JAK inhibitors may be able to help. Although research is still in its early phases, they can potentially silence these cytokines in cancer just like they do in autoimmune diseases.

(Source: Cell Reports, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.03.026.)

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Cancer: the latest inflammatory disease

New research suggests that some aggressive forms of cancer might respond to a powerful class of anti-inflammatory drugs. The drugs—called JAK inhibitors—suppress cells from communicating with each other using a class of molecules called cytokines, and they’re currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, which are autoimmune diseases. Cytokines are important for controlling the body’s immune response, and also for regulating cell growth—a process that runs amok in the case of rapidly multiplying cancer cells. In so-called “triple negative” breast cancer, two of the most important inhibitors of cell growth, enzymes called ARF and p53, don’t function.

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered that the combined loss of ARF and p53 allows one of the body’s immune response mechanisms—originally evolved as an antiviral defense—to become activated, producing cytokines that instruct the cancer cells to grow and spread. This is where JAK inhibitors may be able to help. Although research is still in its early phases, they can potentially silence these cytokines in cancer just like they do in autoimmune diseases.

(Source: Cell Reports, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.03.026.)

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