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Promise and Progress - Breathe Easier and Fight Cancer

Reprogramming Cancer Cells - The Story of Epigenetics
Issue No. 1

Breathe Easier and Fight Cancer

Date: July 16, 2014


Interfering with a newly-discovered immune target appears to both help prevent asthma and fight tumors.

Kimmel Cancer Center cancer immunology expert Jonathan Powell, M.D., found that removing an enzyme, known as SGK1, in mouse models, caused resistance to dust mite-related asthma and about a 50 percent reduction in numbers of lung tumors developed.  Dr. Powell believes that a drug that could block the enzyme in humans could potentially be used to inhibit asthma and also as a novel therapeutic approach that would bolster immune attacks against cancer.

The interesting dual disease affect stems from the immune role of SGK1, Dr. Powell and team say.  SGK1 promotes the production of a type of immune cell that is overactive in asthma but hinders production of immune cells needed to fight tumors.  Blocking the enzyme disrupts this process resulting in the anti-asthma and anti-tumor response the scientists observed.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health grant R01 A177610, the American Asthma Foundation, the American Medical Association Foundation Seed Grant, and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute
 

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