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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New form of interleukin-2 could be fine-tuned to fight disease

New form of interleukin-2 could be fine-tuned to fight disease
Scientists are reporting development of a new way to modify interleukin-2 (IL-2), a substance known as a cytokine that plays key roles in regulating immune system responses, in order to fine-tune its actions.  Harnessing the action of IL-2 in a controllable fashion is of clinical interest with potential benefit in a range of situations, including transplantation and autoimmune disease.  The modified IL-2 molecules inhibited the actions of endogenous IL-2, potentially more effectively than existing agents, as well as inhibited the actions of another interleukin, IL-15, with additional therapeutic potential.  The research is published in the journal Immunity.  

The scientists developed altered forms of IL-2 where activity can be tuned to either boost or block immune responses depending on the desired therapeutic application.  In laboratory studies, treatment with one type of modified IL-2 prolonged survival in a mouse model of graft-versus-host disease and blocked the growth in vitro of T-cells from a patient with chronic/smoldering adult T-cell leukemia, a rare form of cancer, they note.  A similar approach could potentially be used to engineer other immune-system cytokines to generate new molecules with therapeutic potential, the scientists say.

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