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Research Unlocks Secrets of Hiding Tumors

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TAMPA, Fla., Jan 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers at Florida's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute have solved part of the mystery of how tumors manage to evade the immune system.

The research, by Hua Yu, appears in the current issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

"Cancer is allowed to wreak havoc on the body's immune system because it knows how to fool the body's defensive arsenal," explained Jack Pledger, associate center director for basic science.

"The discoveries of Dr. Yu give us vital information about how tumors stay 'invisible,'" he said. "It opens the way for new treatments to help flush the cancer cells into the open, so the body's armies against disease can destroy them."

The researchers found the tumor's activation of Stat3 (from the STAT family of proteins that regulates genes) secretes factors that inhibit the body's immune responses by keeping dendritic cells from maturing. The activation also blocks inflammatory mediators required to trigger the immune system.

Scientists suspect many genes regulated by Stat3 may contribute to cancer, and they are working to develop new drugs based on inhibiting Stat3 for more effective treatment of breast cancer, prostate cancer, sarcoma, melanoma and other tumors.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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