CANCER IMMUNOLOGY

Blocking IL-22 to stop cancer spread

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Science  04 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6192, pp. 43-44
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6192.43-d

Cancer metastasis, when tumors spread from their primary location, is almost always deadly, so patients need anti-metastatic therapies. Cancer stem cells (cells within the tumors that can renew themselves) may drive metastasis. Kryczek et al. now report that CD4+ T cells within human colorectal cancer tissues produce the protein interleukin-22 (IL-22), which helps to maintain colorectal cancer stem cells. IL-22 blockade slowed down colon cancer in mice, whereas IL-22 made the cancer grow. And IL-22 helped tumor cells express stem-cell genes through epigenetic changes to these genes. Colon-cancer patients with these epigenetic modifications also had worse prognoses, which suggests that blocking IL-22 may provide therapeutic benefit.

Immunity 40, 772 (2014).

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