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Controlling cholesterol levels could be the key to improving cancer treatment




Controlling cholesterol levels could be the key to improving cancer treatment

cGAMP activates SOAT1-mediated ER cholesterol reduction. Credit: Nature communication (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-47046-5

A team of researchers from Aarhus University has made a remarkable discovery that could improve the treatment of cancer and the treatment of a number of other diseases. Their research is published in the news Nature communication.

The key lies in regulating cholesterol levels, which can help make existing treatments more effective.

“We have identified a new mechanism that can regulate a crucial immune pathway in the fight against cancer, and this gives us a deeper insight into how we can activate the body’s own defense against the disease,” explains Professor Martin Roelsgaard Jakobsen from the department out. of Biomedicine and one of the last three authors of the study.

The researchers focused on the so-called STING protein, an important part of the immune system’s defense against cancer cells. By manipulating cholesterol levels, the researchers were able to improve the function of the STING protein, opening up new ways to boost the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Effective cancer treatment depends on the strength of the patient’s immune system and how well it can be stimulated to kill cancer cells.

According to Jakobsen, treating cancer requires a combination of treatment strategies that induce local immune activation in the tumor, attract cytotoxic T cells and stimulate broader activation of immune cells. And this is where the new mechanism offers new opportunities.

“The STING protein has already shown promise in the treatment of cancer, but we have not yet discovered how to activate it in a clinical context. Our research provides a new approach to stimulate the activity of the STING protein, allowing us to reap the benefits of the STING protein in a different way. the body’s natural defense against cancer,” he explains.

The study is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from Aarhus University and Aalborg University, including Jakobsen and Emil Kofod-Olsen, specialists in STING signaling and cancer immunology, and Baocun Zhang and Søren Riis Paludan, who have in-depth knowledge of the molecular biology of the STING protein and its role in a number of diseases.

The combination of different disciplines has been crucial in linking cholesterol levels to immune responses to cancer.

“Our discovery is a direct result of bringing together experts from different fields. The collaboration has created a unique insight into how we can fight cancer more effectively,” says Jakobsen.

The discovery of how cholesterol affects the STING protein not only opens new doors for cancer treatment. Researchers also expect the mechanism to play a role in the fight against a number of other diseases.

“Thanks to increased knowledge about both the mechanism of action of the STING protein and how the protein contributes to a number of diseases, it is now more likely that a number of new drugs can be developed against those diseases,” says Professor Paludan.

This includes autoimmune diseases and neurodegenerative diseases, in which the immune system also plays a crucial role.

More information:
Bao-cun Zhang et al., Cholesterol-binding motifs in STING that control endoplasmic reticulum retention mediate antitumor activity of cholesterol-lowering compounds, Nature communication (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-47046-5

Provided by Aarhus University

Quote: Controlling cholesterol levels could be key to improving cancer treatment (2024, April 30), retrieved May 4, 2024 from cancer-treatment.html

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