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publicado em 07/02/2011 às 13h00:00
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Immune protein may be associated with worsening of skin cancer

UV-B radiation causes immune cells to release proteins that instead of protecting the body, allows the growth of tumors

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An immune protein may be related to worsening of cancer due to sun exposure, suggests researchers from University Medical Center George Washington (GWUMC), United States. The study suggests that drugs that block the protein could stop tumor growth in patients with skin cancer.

Cutaneous melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, appears to be rising. Severe burns at an early age increases the risk of a person developing melanoma, but the way these burns lead to cancer remained elusive.

In order to find new ways to treat melanoma, Edward De Fabo, research professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine GWUMC, examined the route between the ultraviolet (UV) and melanoma for more than a decade. "We want to finally discover what is wrong so we can fix it," said De Fabo.

In 2004, he and his colleagues confirmed suspicions that the UV-B radiation, unlike UV-A, triggered by melanoma. In the current study, they found that UV-B causes white blood cells called macrophages, to migrate more in the skin of mice, causing the release of an immune protein, interferon-gamma. Instead of protecting the body, like other protein interferon, the interferon-gamma allowed the growth of tumors by preventing the body's natural immune reaction.

"We do not expect to see if the interferon gamma helps the tumor, instead of killing cancer cells," said De Fabo. "Interferons, so named for the way interfere with the virus, are traditionally considered responsible for fighting tumors. In fact, skin cancer is sometimes treated with another type of interferon, interferon-alpha, but with limited success" .

By exposing an unexpected dark side of these immune proteins, the report points to a new direction in drug development. The blockade of interferon-gamma prevented melanoma cells, skin cancer, to grow into tumors in mice. A drug that intercepts interferon-gamma, or their effects can therefore be used to treat patients with melanoma. In fact, the team found that 70% of cancerous cells from melanoma patients contained elevated levels of interferon-gamma.


De Fabo and his colleagues made the discovery by a new set of tools.

The researcher developed a device for high-tech UV radiation can shine against the exposure of UV-A and UV-B in several mice simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Glenn Marino at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, collaborated with the researcher Frances Noonan, in engineered mice that could develop the same type of melanoma developed by people in the cancer cells of skin, or melanocytes, occur near the epidermis.

The team did shine melanocytes, labeling them with a green fluorescent protein so that cells could be easily extracted from mice to new experiences.

"A true highlight of the study methodology is unique, both UV radiation technology and the creation of a mouse melanoma model that resulted from a collaboration," said De Fabo.

   Palavras-chave:   Cancer    Melanoma    UVA    UVB    Sun exposure    Immune protein   
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