• By Dana Sparks

Immune Cells Are Driven To Exhaustion During Cancer Treatment

May 9, 2012

Instead of stimulating immune cells to battle cancerous tumors, treatment with a protein called interleukin-12 (IL-12) is having the opposite effect, driving the cells to exhaustion. The results of this Mayo Clinic study suggest a change in therapeutic tactics for lymphomas and other cancers by dampening, rather than fueling, the effects of cell-signaling molecules.  

“It is like beating a dead horse,” says senior author Stephen Ansell, M.D., Ph.D. “Our study suggests that many immunotherapy approaches are futile, because these cells are already past the point where they can do their job of targeting and killing malignant cells. Before we can stimulate the immune system, we have to reverse this state of exhaustion so the body’s T cells can get back to work.”

The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Expert title for broadcast cg: Dr. Stephen Ansell, Mayo Clinic Hematologist

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