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Researchers describe how chronic inflammation can lead to stomach cancer
Date:11/5/2008

NEW YORK A multi-center research team, led by Columbia University Medical Center, has uncovered a major contributor to the cause of stomach cancer the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the world. The team described for the first time, that elevated levels of a single proinflammatory cytokine, an immune system protein called interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), can start the progression towards stomach cancer. These results are published in the Nov. 4, 2008 issue of Cancer Cell. The researchers hope to use this finding to develop ways to block this process, thereby preventing cancer from developing.

"This study shows that accumulation of IL-1β, which is induced by infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the gastrointestinal tract, is a significant contributor to the onset of stomach cancer," said lead author Timothy C. Wang, M.D., chief of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We show in this study that IL-1β works by activating a type of white blood cell known as myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which in our study appeared to be strongly pro-inflammatory. Blocking IL-1β or the myeloid (MDSCs) cells may represent a potential strategy to prevent stomach cancer."

Previous research has shown that stomach cancer is strongly linked to chronic inflammation, and that infection with H. pylori may trigger the chronic inflammation that can lead to malignancy, but it was not known exactly how. While H. pylori infection is extremely prevalent, only a small minority (less than one percent) of infected individuals will, after many years, go onto develop stomach cancer. Previous research had linked H. pylori infection to the overexpression of IL-1β, and the susceptibility to gastric cancer to high-expressing IL-1 ge
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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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