Filling the gaps in immune system cancer research

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

New light has been shone on the role of specific protein components of the immune system in both causing and preventing cancer.

Professor Brendan Jenkins discovers the role of the immune system in causing and preventing cancer.
Professor Brendan Jenkins

In the most extensive review of its kind, published in Nature Reviews Cancer, Professor Brendan Jenkins has analysed all available studies on innate immune pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) – the critical regulators of the immune system response to microbial infection and host tissue damage.

His analysis is important in light of recent studies showing that in many cancer types, PRRs play a central role in modulating tumour-inhibiting and tumour-promoting cellular responses, both in immune cells within tumours and directly in cancer cells.

New immune-based cancer drugs

Professor Jenkins believes this opens the potential to target PRRs for new immune-based biomarkers and therapeutics (drugs) to be developed for improved diagnosis and treatments for cancer patients.

“For the first time there is a comprehensive review and perspective on all PPRs in all cancers, including their potential targeting,” he said.

“There is a broad spectrum of innate immune PPRs with the potential to either inhibit or promote the growth of tumors, so there are opportunities to develop anti-cancer drugs that either augment or block their activation in a large range of cancers.

“Working with Professor Si Ming Man from the Australian National University, our review also summarises many of the previous and current clinical trials in cancer involving PPR inhibitors or activators,” Professor Jenkins said.

Collaborators | Professor Si Ming Man – Division of Immunity, Inflammation and Infection, The John Curtin School of Medical Research; The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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