A New Immune System Regulator Discovered by TCB Research Group

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A New Immune System Regulator Discovered by TCB Research Group

Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa’s research group from Turku Centre for Biotechnology of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland, has discovered a new regulator of the immune system, a key factor that controls development of regulatory T cells. The discovery provides basis for new strategies for the treatment of both cancer and immune-mediated diseases.

Regulatory T cells are critical in controllers of the immune response. The majority of T cells boost the immune response enhancing the ability to destroy cancer cells, viruses and bacteria. In contrast, regulatory T cells may suppress the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells, allowing cancer to grow and spread. In these instances, inhibiting or braking the regulatory T cell activity would be needed.

The group discovered that a protein called ‘Hypermethylated In Cancer 1’, or HIC1, serves as the key regulator of regulatory T cells controlling the expression of a large set of genes contributing to T cell function. In addition, with genome-wide methods they showed that HIC1 binds to genomic sites that often contain genetic variations associated with immune-mediated diseases. The results provide new insights into molecular mechanisms that regulate T cell function and immune response in general.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports on 20 February 2018.

Start: Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 00:00

End: Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 23:59

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