Cancer types such as melanoma, prostate cancer and certain types of leukaemia weaken the body by over-activating the natural immune system. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have now demonstrated that selenium – naturally found in, e.g., garlic and broccoli – slows down the immune over-response. In the long term, this may improve cancer treatment. The findings have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The immune system is designed to remove things not normally found in the body. Cells undergoing change, e.g. precursors of cancer cells, are therefore normally recognised and removed by the immune system. Unfortunately, the different cancer cells contain mechanisms that block the immune system's ability to recognise them, allowing them to freely continue cancer development.
You can say that the stimulating molecules over-activate the immune system and cause it to collapse, and we are, of course, interested in blocking this mechanism. We have now shown that certain selenium compounds, which are naturally found in, e.g., garlic and broccoli, effectively block the special immunostimulatory molecule that plays a serious role for aggressive cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer and certain types of leukaemia, says Professor Søren Skov.
Small steps towards better treatment
Certain cancer cells overexpress immunostimulatory molecules in liquid form. Such over-stimulation has a negative impact on the immune system.
In this study, the researchers focused on what are known as NGK2D ligands. There are eight variants, of which one in particular has caught the researchers attention, because it assumes liquid form. It is precisely the molecular dissolution that causes serious problems, once the cancer is raging. The entire bloodstream is, so to speak, infected, and the molecule …
The body needs the immune system to fight off cancer, but unfortunately certain types of cancer can override the immune system, impairing its function. With the discovery of selenium's blocking capabilities, researchers are on the right track towards finding ways to slow down overexpression in cancer cases. The results of the study is a small step, but it is a step forward towards developing better cancer treatments with fewer serious side effects.
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