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Cancer Counterstrike

Blocking protein ART1 on cancer cells unleashes immune attack against them

03 April 2022

Cancer Counterstrike

As well as fighting foreign bugs that invade the body, a person’s immune cells can ferret out and destroy cancerous cells arising within the body itself. Cancer is a tricky beast, however, and the cells can employ a variety of nefarious tactics to suppress the immune system and avoid detection and destruction. One such trick is the production of an enzyme called ART1 – shown in green in these human lung cancer cells. ART1 catalyses the modification of a protein receptor on the surface of the tumour-fighting immune cells that ultimately causes the cells to die. Encouragingly, researchers have found that blocking ART1 activity in mice with cancer can unleash the animals’ immune systems, promote infiltration of immune cells into tumours, and stunt tumour growth. These promising results provide impetus for the further development and testing of anti-ART1 medications that might one day be used to boost cancer-fighting cells in patients.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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