Breaking news from the Medical Research team at Southampton University, in the UK:
Scientists, led by Professor Aymen Al.Shamkhani, have discovered a potential way of boosting the immune system’s memory to fight cancer. The answer would seem to lie in the AKt protein which acts as a catalyst on the function of the cytotoxic T cells.
Studies at Southampton University have revealed that the AKt protein has a positive effect on the cytotoxic memory T cells that seek out and destroy infections and cancer. The protein is vital for the way those cells remember a cancer they have eradicated. If AKt can be harnessed to boost the number of memory cells, there would be more protection against cancer and other infections.
The studies, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, shows that AKt is fundamental for the survival of T cells when they change to memory cells and how they react to future threats.
The next step will be to see if the approach to boosting the number of T cells works, and is safe for patients.
Over the past 40 years the University of Southampton has made significant advances in cancer immunology and immunotherapy. This year, the university will open the first Center for Cancer Immunology in the UK, which will bring world leading cancer scientists together under one roof to work on clinical trials and, at the same time, decide on lifesaving drugs.