Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cell proteins called ESCRT repair damage from immune attack – blocking them could enhance cancer cell death

09 June 2022

Puncture Repair Kit

Here, live mouse cells in a dish show how the immune system aims to protect us from cancer. A killer T cell (pink) – a type of white blood cell in the immune system – catches an ovarian cancer cell (blue). As the T cell punctures its target, a dye demonstrates the damage, entering the cell, highlighting its DNA and RNA in red. Toxins called granzymes are released by the T cell and enter the cancer cell, forcing it to commit suicide. However, cancer has ways of resisting this attack. Using advanced electron microscopy scientists have now found that when punctured a repair response can be triggered in cancer cells allowing them to survive. ESCRT proteins are a key part of the repair kit, arriving at the puncture site within a minute. Blocking these proteins in cancer cells made it easier for T cells to kill them, which could be a strategy for future treatments.

Written by Henry Stennett

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