Can Cancer Trigger Autoimmunity?

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Science  10 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6167, pp. 147-148
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249486

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Autoimmune diseases occur when immune B and T cells fail to distinguish the body's own proteins as self and attack them, ultimately damaging tissues and organs. There are many possible causes of autoimmune diseases, such as chemical exposures, infections, and genetic factors. On page 152 of this issue, Joseph et al. (1) raise another possibility—nascent growing cancers might express new proteins (neoantigens) whose exposure to the immune system creates the potential for an autoimmune disease to develop.