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School of Medicine
Promise and Progress - Immune Cell Commander
The Time is Now: 2010-2011
Immune Cell Commander
Date: November 11, 2010
Immunity, June 19, 2009
In the world of cancer immunity, there are commanders and soldiers. Researchers led by Jonathan Powell, M.D., Ph.D., believe they have identified a commander. They say an enzyme known as mTOR plays a crucial role in directing immune soldier cells known as T-cells toward disease-causing offenders, making it a potential therapeutic target to promote immunity in diseases, including cancer.
T cells come in several varieties and respond to a broad array of environmental signals. When activated, they decide which type of cell to change into to best do a necessary job. For example, Th1 cells help fight cancer or viruses, Th2 cells help fight parasites but also promote allergy and asthma, and Th17 cells help fight bacterial infections.
“Our work suggests that mTOR signaling regulates the decision toward which type of cell that T cells become,” Powell says. “Without mTOR, T cells default to become regulatory cells, so signals leading to the activation of mTOR are required to redirect the cells toward active immunity.”
The research already has led to the development of a novel bone marrow transplant approach to curing sickle cell disease and has spurred the development of three cancer clinical trials. Clinician scientist David Loeb, M.D., is investigating whether blocking mTOR signaling can hinder cancer-originating stem cells in sarcoma patients while Douglas Gladstone, M.D., and William Matsui, M.D., are looking at mTOR inhibitors as a treatment for mantle cell lymphoma. Ivan Borello, M.D., plans to use a mTOR inhibitor in an attempt to preserve bone in multiple myeloma patients.
The work was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Articles in this Issue
Cover Story: Personalized Medicine is Here, The Time is Now
- Personalized Medicine is Here: The Time is Now
- Cover Story Sidebar: Our Cancer Research is Curing Other Diseases Too
- Cover Story Sidebar: A New Paradigm for Cancer Drug Discovery
- Cover Story Sidebar: Personalized Approaches in Pediatric Cancer
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Frankenstein Project
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Serendipitous Discovery of a Cancer Starter
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Mathematics of Curing Cancer
- Immune Cell Commander
- A Personalized Genetic Profile for Brain Cancer
- A New "Twist" in Breast Cancer
- JHU Engineering Student Invents Melanoma Screening Device
- Special Delivery: Biodegradable Particles Transport Drugs to Diseased Tissues and Organs
- Targeting Brain Cancer Stem Cells
- Vaccine Clears Out Leukemia Cells
- Does Low Cholesterol Equal Lower Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer?
- A Common Good - The Commonwealth Foundation
- Helping Us Solve The Cancer Puzzle
- The Skip Viragh Center
- Making Waves to Fight Cancer
- Gift Brings Complementary Care to Cancer Patients
- A Major Gift for Kidney Cancer Research
- Giant Food Supports Childhood Cancer Research
- Wawa Cares About Cancer Patients
- Young Lacrosse Players Faced Off Against Childhood Cancer