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MSU project may lead to new approaches against lung cancer

EAST LANSING, Mich. A Michigan State University researcher is analyzing the immune system's own ability to protect the body against lung cancer.

The results of the work by Alison Bauer, an assistant professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation in the College of Veterinary Medicine, are expected to provide new approaches to prevent, identify and treat lung cancer.

The research is funded by a $720,000 grant from the American Cancer Society.

"Chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are risk factors in the development of lung cancer," Bauer explained. "However, activation of certain components of the immune system namely the part of our immune system that responds first to an injury, or the innate immune system may provide protection against lung cancer development."

Bauer explains her research entitled "The role of toll-like receptor 4 in mouse pulmonary neoplasia" as follows: Previous research has determined that farm and textile workers exposed to elevated levels of a bacterial component called endotoxin are at a reduced risk of developing lung cancer.

After being introduced to the body, endotoxin binds to a specific protein on cells known as "toll-like" receptors; these receptors are involved in innate immunity. The primary receptor binding endotoxin is called toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4).

Bauer and her team have previously shown that TLR4 acts in a protective manner against the development of chronic lung inflammation and lung cancer in mice; that research was published last year in the journal Molecular Cancer. With this grant, they will further investigate how and why TLR4 acts in a protective manner, focusing on the cells involved in the inflammation process in mice models.

Bauer also will look at intercellular communication, which is one way neighboring cells can communicate, and growth factor regulation. The team will investigate the role of these pathways in the protection observed through TLR4, which in other cancers is required for some chemotherapeutic drugs to be effective.


Contact: Jason Cody
Michigan State University

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