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St. Jude finds molecule that could improve cancer vaccines and therapy for other diseases
Date:11/21/2007

lls and are critical to regulatory T cell function. In fact, regulatory T cells that lack the Ebi3 and II12a genes lose much of their ability to suppress effector T cells. In addition, these regulatory T cells are unable to cure mouse models of an inflammatory disease that closely resembles human IBD.

When the researchers added regulatory T cells to a culture dish with effector T cells, the regulatory T cells dramatically increased their production of the decoded forms (messenger RNA) of the Ebi3 and II12a genes. This suggests that effector T cells had released signals that stimulated the regulatory T cells to decode these genes and make IL-35, the researchers reported.

The identification of IL-35 as a key cytokine released by regulatory T cells adds significantly to our understanding of how these cells prevent immune responses from running out of control and causing damage, Vignali said. Regulatory T cells are seen as a major impediment to the development of effective anti-cancer vaccines and may prevent sterilizing immunity in certain chronic infections, such as hepatitis C and tuberculosis. As the maximal suppressive function of regulatory T cell is dependent on IL-35, blocking its activity may reduce regulatory T cell function and reduce their ability to block anti-tumor immune responses. Thus, treatments that block IL-35 activity may make anti-cancer vaccines more effective. Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to recognize and attack specific targets, such as germs or cancer cells.

Autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases are caused by a breakdown of the normal regulatory processes that control our immune system, Vignali said. Novel treatments that add IL-35 or boost IL-35 activity may also provide new therapeutic opportunities for these diseases.

The identification of IL-35 is especially exciting because, to date, it is the only known cytokine that is made specifically by regulatory T lymphocytes and can su
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-495-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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