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Manipulating the Immune System to Stop Growth of a Deadly Brain Cancer

Cancer is something that has touched many individuals and families. Though the scientific community has made novel discoveries and is slowly advancing towards finding a cure, researchers have yet to solve the biological mysteries and immunological complexities of cancer.

Glioblastoma has been deemed the deadliest form of brain cancer, as it recruits the immune system to support its growth and proliferation. Researchers at the University of Calgary and Clark H. Smith Tumour Centre at the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Center discovered a factor called Interleukin 33 (IL-33), that recruits immune cells to brain tumors to change their function and support the tumors' growth. IL-33, also known as alarmin, functions to “alarm” and activate an immune response in the body. The research group’s findings showed that the tumor’s release of IL-33 leads to immune cell activation and migration towards the tumor and entrance into cells’ nuclei. It is there that the function of these immune cells changes from fighting tumor growth to supporting it.

The researchers propose blocking IL-33 from reaching the nucleus as a potential mechanism to stop glioblastoma proliferation. With this disruption, the lack of IL-33 in the nucleus restores the normal function of immune cells, thus allowing them to target and attack the cancer. With surgery, radiation and chemotherapy already on the list of current treatments, re-programming our immune systems to target tumors may be a promising step forward in improving treatment and long-term outcomes for cancer patients.

Works Cited:

University of Calgary. "New tactic to stop the growth of a deadly brain cancer: The findings indicate the body may be the ultimate weapon against glioblastoma, but it needs help." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2020. <>.

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