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Innviertler researchers find new ways to fight cancer


Lucky hormone building blocks can destroy cancer cells

Joseph Penninger was born in Gurton Innviertel. Since December he lives with his family in Canada. Image: Eric Krügl

Innviertler researchers find new ways to fight cancer

Innviertel Chief Researcher Josef Penninger offers a revolutionary breakthrough.

07 November 2018 – 19:00

"The previously untangible cancer has become partly curable with immunotherapy, and I hope that progress will continue," said Joseph Penninger, 54, a research associate with Innviertler's roots, in an interview with OÖNnachrichten in April. During the half-year in Nature, he provides a completely new insight into immune cell biology that can be used to fight cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Together with his colleagues from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and Clifford Woolf of the Austrian Academy of Sciences from the "Boston Children's Hospital in Harvard," Penninger has discovered that our body's immune cells, called T cells, through the molecule "BH4" have been activated to have an important role in metabolism in our nervous system. To date, it was only known that tetrahydrobiopterin, also called "BH4", needed couriers like "happiness hormones" serotonin and dopamine. The results of the current study: "BH4" controls the growth of T cells, "our immune system soldiers," regulating iron metabolism and mitochondrial activity, cell "power stations".

T cells patrol our bodies and emit pathogens or degenerate cells that may become tumors. In such cases, T cells are activated, multiplied, and attacked by a kind of attack to target invaders or target cancer cells. Thus, "BH4" is an important candidate for further cancer immunotherapy, since activated T cells detect and combat cancer cells. Researchers in mice have now found that BH4 helps T cells target target tumors.

From cancer to arthritis

But autoimmune diseases such as colitis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, some skin diseases and allergies, are hoping for a new treatment option "BH4". "The inhibition of BH4 may inhibit this type of auto-invasive immune cell attack so that they do not destroy whole tissue or cause chronic inflammation," said scientist Shane Cronin from IMBA in Vienna. His boss Josef Penninger will lead the Institute of Life Sciences in Vancouver, Canada, from December. With him, Austria loses one of the local science leaders, whose findings have led to international attention for several years. One of his greatest successes was the discovery of RANKL protein, which resulted in the creation of Denosumab. Over the years, it has been successfully used against osteoporosis and bone metastases.

At the moment, it is also being tested in Austria whether denosumab can also prevent the development of breast cancer. (Bar)

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