FEB 02, 2021 7:30 AM PST

Pumping the Brakes on Stomach Cancer Progression

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

By the time stomach cancer is diagnosed, it’s often bad news for patients. The disease often presents with relatively mild symptoms (heartburn, nausea, and poor appetite) until the advanced stages, at which point there are very limited treatment options available.

Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide with over a million new diagnoses in 2018 alone.

Now, scientists have discovered a nexus between a molecular regulator of inflammation and stomach cancer progression, breaking new ground in how the disease can be managed clinically. The study was published in the journal Gastroenterology.

The research team, led by Lorraine O’Reilly found that eliminating the immune cytokine tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, arrests the progression of stomach cancer. TNF is an inflammatory signaling protein that alerts immune cells to the presence of infection or tissue damage, thus triggering inflammation.

“We discovered that invasive stomach cancers contain high levels of various factors involved in inflammation, including four soluble proteins called cytokines,” explained O’Reilly.

“By removing each of the four cytokines that were elevated in our model, we could assess how important each one was. This revealed that the cytokine TNF was required for the progression of stomach cancer,” she said.

This observation was significant as it points towards a potential therapeutic approach for slowing stomach cancer development before it begins to spread and invade other organs.

TNF-blocking therapeutics are already in the clinic, albeit for a different application: treating rheumatoid arthritis. Follow-up studies by the team are focused on further testing the safety and efficacy of such drugs for treating stomach cancer. 

 

 

Sources: Gastroenterology, WEHI.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUN 10, 2021
Immunology
Decoding the Immune System's Language
JUN 10, 2021
Decoding the Immune System's Language
Scientists at UCLA have decoded the “vocabulary” of immune cells—six distinct signals used as flares t ...
JUN 26, 2021
Cancer
Immunotherapy Drug Shows Promise for Obese Patients with Breast Cancer
JUN 26, 2021
Immunotherapy Drug Shows Promise for Obese Patients with Breast Cancer
Research shows that obese patients with cancers including ovarian and melanoma may respond better to a certain kind of i ...
JUL 15, 2021
Immunology
Your Immune System Can't Deal With All the Plastic You're Eating
JUL 15, 2021
Your Immune System Can't Deal With All the Plastic You're Eating
Microplastics—tiny fragments of plastic, less than five millimeters in diameter—pollute our environment and, ...
SEP 02, 2021
Immunology
Hobit Activates Cancer-Killing Immune Cells
SEP 02, 2021
Hobit Activates Cancer-Killing Immune Cells
Innate lymphoid cells, or ILCs, are specialized immune cells that are increasingly entering the research spotlight. Thes ...
SEP 07, 2021
Health & Medicine
Think you can pay back your sleep debt this weekend? Think again.
SEP 07, 2021
Think you can pay back your sleep debt this weekend? Think again.
Researchers find that even one night of sleep loss results in impaired functioning and well being.
SEP 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
SEP 09, 2021
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 136 people die from an opioid overdose every ...
Loading Comments...