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The activation of immune cells is something already used in cancer immunotherapies today. Researchers in Basel have now identified a new target for activating the immune system against cancer. It is hoped this development will lead to new cancer drugs.
Immunotherapies harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Some molecules that target immune cells are already being used successfully in cancer treatment, but has benefited only few cancer patients so far. It is therefore important that new target molecules are discovered, and this has now been achieved by researchers at University Hospital of Basel.
Their new target molecule is the protein Siglec-9. Researchers found that the immune systems of patients with lung, colon and ovarian cancers produce this protein. It inhibits immune cells and consequently makes it possible for cancer to keep growing. The University Hospital reported in a press release that the task now is to develop drugs that can target Siglec-9, which might involve the activation of the inhibited immune cells.
The University Hospital of Basel was supported in its research by the University of Bern, the University of California, the University of Southern California and Dartmouth College, which is also in the USA. The new study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation medical journal.