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Protein Helps Destroy Tumors in Mice

By Kate Ruder

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Scientists have shown that a protein inserted into mice can help eliminate tumors. The protein stimulated mouse immune cells to travel to the tumor; once there, the immune cells destroyed the cancer.

The research could someday lead to cancer treatments if scientists can figure out how to stimulate human immune cells to behave similarly.

Yang-Xin Fu of the University of Chicago led the research. His team found that mouse tumors with a new protein began regressing after two weeks, while tumors without the protein grew and killed the mice within a month.

The protein expressed in mouse tumors is called LIGHT (the name is an acronym and the protein does not glow). The LIGHT protein is also found in humans.

The LIGHT protein also seemed to be effective against secondary tumors that appeared once the primary tumor had been removed. Fu speculates that the human LIGHT protein could be used as a preventative therapy to inhibit the spread of tumors in cancer patients.

Yu, P. et al. Priming naïve T cells inside tumors leads to eradication of established tumors. Nature Immunology (Published online January 4, 2004).

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