Life-threatening Inflammation and Cancer Spread could be Controlled by Limiting the Immune Response

Researchers from the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) at the University of Calgary, led by Drs. Donna Senger, Paul Kubes, and Stephen Robbins made progress in the clinical experimentation to limit harmful inflammation in diseases like sepsis and acute lung injury that could prove fatal.

Stephen Robbins is famous for his academics in the departments of Oncology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Mr. Robbins led a research group which had teams from more than 10 different laboratories.

The teams were from the University of Calgary, the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.” Journal Cell shows the findings of the study ” Dipeptidase-1 Is an Adhesion Receptor for Neutrophil Recruitment in Lungs and Liver.”

What causes the inflammations?

The body reacts to infections in various ways, this may be one of the reasons why inflammations occur. Sepsis is a leading cause of death in Canada, as one in 18 individuals die struggling against the severe infection.

A survey puts acute lung injury as a leading cause of death in intensive care in Canada.

The body’s immune response causes an elevated release of white blood cells (WBCs) to fight against infection. This process leads to the formation of inflammations. The real problem arises when WBCs enter the tissue to clean up the inflammation.

This accumulation of the WBCs at a point has a negative impact on the internal organs. Lungs are extremely sensitive to this and any such inflammation there may lead to death. Apart from sepsis, inflammation due to some injury or disease causes destruction of the lungs too.

The cause of WBC accumulation

The researchers aimed to discover the causative agent that causes some cells to bind with each other in the lungs. They studied the spread of cancer to better understand the inflammations.

The cancer biologists, Senger and Robbins examined how cancer metastasizes. They knew about some cancer cells which target the lungs and accumulate there.

Many cancer patients successfully fight back the primary tumors. The problems arise when cancer metastasizes. It’s spread makes the cases helpless. However, the work of an inflammation specialist, Kubes enlightened the reason behind the accumulation of WBCs in the lungs.

The patients of sepsis often lose their lives due to the body’s struggle against the disease not merely from the disease itself.

Their collaborative efforts enabled them screening for a molecule common in both of the processes. Researchers targeted the blood vessels in the lungs because it was suspected to have the accumulation of cancerous cells and WBCs.

Researchers discovered a molecule in the blood vessels of the lungs as suspected. In the case of inflammation that molecule could bind the WBCs, additionally, it aids in the transfer of cells from the blood into the tissue.

Preventing the clumping

This phenomenon continues to occur in the presence of WBCs. The scientists interpreted how and why the transferring of WBCs was taking place. Hence the researchers introduced a drug-like molecule into the bloodstream thus preventing the binding of the molecule with the WBCs.

Dr. Kubes, Professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and a director at the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases was particularly pleased with the study.

Kubes was fascinated by the findings as by targeting the molecule the effects of sepsis and acute lung injury could be kept under check and hence death could be kept at bay. The molecule was found to have the potential to limit the inflammation that a body experiences post-infection.

The study enabled the scientists to disclose a similar process that takes place in the liver. Later, they introduced two drug-like molecules targeting inflammation in the lung and liver.

Researchers experimented their hypothesis on mice. The team now aims to carry out human trails in addition to the mice ones.

The researchers are looking forward to investigating the effect of these findings on cancer metastasis, suspecting to treat cancer and prevent it from spreading in the body.

The team successfully singled out the molecule at first which was responsible for the binding but through the course of study they additionally found out that the molecule was also present in certain cancer cells and could be aiding in its spread.

Not only is the study helpful in understanding inflammations, if the trails being conducted on mice are successful on humans as well, we might also be able to reduce the number of deaths caused by cancers each year.

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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