“Cancer: Interference identifies immune modulators” – 3/8/14 – Madeleine Uelk

In a paper published online by Nature magazine, author Lars Zender writes that the research group of “Zhou et al. use RNA-interference technology to identify genes that can be targeted to enhance the robustness and proliferation of immune cells called CD8+ T cells in mice bearing melanomas.” The study conducted by Zhou has broken ground by identifying two potential targets for cancer immunotherapy in mice with melanoma. The discovery was made using RNA interference screening, in which small RNA molecules inhibit specific gene expression and “sets a new standard in how the function of immune cells can be genetically dissected by RNAi screening.” Cancer immunotherapy is a process designed to strengthen the immune system’s response to tumors by antibody-regulated T cell receptor binding. This system provides a promising path in cancer therapy, however, “to improve the efficiency of such treatments further, a deeper understanding and better mechanistic characterization of antitumour immune responses are needed.” Zhou’s research team has focused on using RNA interference to study the expression of the subunit Ppp2r2d and has shown that inhibiting its expression has increased T-cell survival and increased the death of melanoma cells over time.

For the full report: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13050.html

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