New way to target advanced breast cancers
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IMAGE: Human breast cancer tissue stained by immunofluorescence illustrates the interplay between secreted and surface-bound TGFβ (red) expressed by cancer cells (blue), which primes tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells to produce IL1β (green)…. view more 

Credit: Jackson Laboratory

A cytokine signature found in certain kinds of breast cancer cells can not only serve as a diagnostic tool for HER2-negative cancers but also offer an effective treatment target.

A research team led by Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), has collaborated with researchers at The Baylor Institute for Immunology Research to show that IL1b, a member of the interleukin 1 family of cytokines (proteins released by certain cells of the immune system) drives the inflammation often found in cancer, and appears as an “IL1 signature” in women with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.

“We found that IL1b orchestrates tumor-promoting inflammation in breast cancer,” Palucka says, “and its presence corresponds with poor clinical outcomes. We show that it can be effectively targeted in patients using anakinra, a naturally occurring IL1 receptor antagonist.”

Anakinra is already widely used to treat autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, and is being tested as an adjunct therapy to reduce the inflammation of metastatic cancer, including

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