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Study shows how chronic inflammation can cause cancer
Date:11/12/2012

  • Chronic inflammation like sunburn can sometimes cause cancer, but how it happens remains unknown.
  • This study shows for the first time how a substance made by the body to promote inflammation can cause an aggressive form of leukemia.
  • This knowledge enabled the researchers to develop a possible treatment for the leukemia.

COLUMBUS, Ohio A hormone-like substance produced by the body to promote inflammation can cause an aggressive form of leukemia when present at high levels, according to a new study by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC James).

The study shows that high levels of interleukin-15 (IL-15) alone can cause large granular lymphocytic (LGL) leukemia, a rare and usually fatal form of cancer, in an animal model. The researchers also developed a treatment for the leukemia that showed no discernible side effects in the animal model.

Published in the journal Cancer Cell, the findings show that IL-15 is also overexpressed in patients with LGL leukemia and that it causes similar cellular changes, suggesting that the treatment should also benefit people with the malignancy.

"We know that inflammation can cause cancer, but we don't know the exact mechanism," says principal investigator Dr. Michael A. Caligiuri, CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, and director of Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Here, we show one way it can happen, and we used that information to potentially cure the cancer."

Normally, the body releases IL-15 to stimulate the development, survival and proliferation of natural-killer cells, which are immune cells that destroy cancer and virus-infected cells. This research shows that when IL-15 is present in high amounts in the body for prolonged periods, such as during chronic inflammation, it can cause certain immune cells called
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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