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15 April 2014 09:29
Researchers claim the enzyme could be a useful target when it comes to treating asthma and boosting the effects of certain cancer therapies
Scientists have identified an enzyme that could be a useful target in treating asthma and boosting the effects of certain cancer therapies.
SKG1, which is involved in the regulation of immune system T cells, could hold the key to fine-tuning immune responses in patients.
In experiments involving laboratory mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in the United States found that mice without the enzyme SKG1 were resistant to dust mite-induced asthma.
They also discovered that mice with melanoma and missing the enzyme developed far fewer lung tumours - less than half as many - than mice with SKG1.
Professor Jonathan Powell, lead author of the study, is excited at the prospect of a SKG1-blocking drug.
"If we can develop a drug that blocks the enzyme in a way that mimics what happens when the enzyme is missing, we would not only have a treatment to inhibit asthma, but also a drug that could be used in conjunction with other experimental therapies aimed at helping the immune system fight cancer," he said.
"We're not suppressing or exacerbating the immune system, we're regulating it. We're regulating it to do exactly what we want it to do."
SKG1 was also found to promote the production of T helper 2 cells, which become overactive in asthma and other allergies in a sort of runaway case of inflammation.
Finding a drug that could shut down SKG1 could therefore help block the inflammation that causes asthma and other allergic reactions.
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