New Cancer Treatment Using Enzymes to Boost Immune System

System eradicates unwanted cells rather than directly killing them

PEG-KYNase is an enzyme that researchers at the University of Texas are utilizing in a new effort to fight cancer.

The enzyme doesn’t directly kill cancer cells; rather, it empowers the immune system to remove the unhealthy cells by its own enhanced functioning. The UT team’s findings were published in a recent issue of Nature Biotechnology.

A healthy, fully functioning immune system can combat the spread of cancer cells and eliminate tumors by itself. However, tumors have evolved in multiple ways to suppress the immune system, leading to the growth and metastasis of cancer cells.

“Our immune system constantly polices the body and normally recognizes and eliminates cancerous cells,” said Everett Stone, research assistant professor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Molecular Biosciences and co-author of the study. “Kynurenine acts as a roadblock to immune cells that impedes normal surveillance; our drug removes this obstacle.”

The team built a model human immune system abnormally affected by cancer cells, unleashing the body’s power to fight back against the disease. Their report is available for review.

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