A new immune system regulator has been discovereD. This is the key factor that controls the development of regulatory T cells. The research forms the basis for exploring new treatment of cancer and immune-mediated diseases. The findings emerged from a study at Turku Centre for Biotechnology of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University in Finland.
Regulatory T cells are critical controllers of the immune response. The majority of T cells boost the immune response enhancing the ability to destroy cancer cells, viruses and bacteria. In contrast, regulatory T cells can sometimes suppress the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells, allowing cancer to grow and spread. In these instances, inhibiting or braking the regulatory T cell activity would be needed.
"We discovered that a protein called 'Hypermethylated In Cancer 1', or HIC1, serves as the key regulator of regulatory T cells controlling the expression of a large set of genes contributing to T cell function," says Academy Professor Riitta Lahesmaa.