Scientists identify an antibody that can promote the immune systems ability to fight different types of cancer

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Boston, May 22 :Scientists have identified an antibody that can promote the immune systems ability to fight different types of cancer and reduce tumour growth, making it an attractive candidate for immunotherapy.

In a new study published in the journal Science Immunology, researchers from the Brigham and Womens Hospital (BWH) in the US found that the antibody that can precisely target regulatory T cells which in turn unleashes the immune system to kill cancer cells.

Researchers, who were studying the underpinnings of multiple sclerosis, found that the antibody decreased tumor growth in models of skin, brain and colon cancer.

“My team studied a subpopulation of T cells that are supposed to prevent autoimmune disease, we had an idea,” said Howard Weiner, from BWH.

“If cancer is the opposite of an autoimmune disease, we could turn our investigations around and think about how to restore the immune systems ability to prevent cancers growth,” Weiner said.

T cells (Tregs), which help maintain the immune systems tolerance of self, can also promote cancers growth by preventing the bodys immune system from detecting and attacking cancer cells.

The researchers found that they could precisely target Tregs using an antibody that locks in on a molecular complex thats uniquely expressed on the cell surface of Tregs.

The team developed these anti-LAP antibodies initially to investigate the development of multiple sclerosis, but realised that their work had implications for the study of cancer.

Previous studies have shown that LAP+ cells are increased in human cancer and predict a poor prognosis. Being able to target these cells could offer a new way to treat the disease.

In the current study, researchers studied how well anti- LAP antibodies could work in blocking the essential mechanisms of Tregs and restoring the immune systems ability to fight cancer.

They found that anti-LAP acts on multiple cell populations to promote the immune systems ability to fight cancer, including increasing the activity of certain types of T cells and enhancing immune memory.

“In addition to studying its therapeutic effect, we wanted to characterise the mechanism by which the anti-LAP antibody can activate the immune system,” said Galina Gabriely, a scientist in the Weiner laboratory.

“We found that it affects multiple arms of the immune system,” said Gabriely.

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