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New immune system regulator discovered

A 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.

Their findings are published in Cell Reports.

Regulatory T cells are critical 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 can sometimes suppress the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells, allowing cancer to grow and spread.

In these instances, inhibiting the regulatory T cell activity would be needed.

"We 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", says Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa.

"In addition, with genome-wide methods we show that HIC1 binds to sites in the nucleus that often contain genetic variations associated with immune-mediated diseases. This gives us completely new insights into molecular mechanisms that regulate T cell function and immune response in general" continues Lahesmaa.

Source:  University of Turku

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Founding partners

European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

Founding Charities

Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

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