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Molecular link between inflammation and cancer discovered

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A small amount of dialogue between inflammation and development is beneficial, say the researchers, akin to how information from anti-terrorism efforts could be useful to crews building the state's infrastructure. On the other hand, the constant influence of defense processes on development is detrimental.

"Studies with animals have shown that a little inflammation is necessary for the normal development of the immune system and other organ systems," explained Hoffmann. "We discovered that the protein p100 provides the cell with a way in which inflammation can influence development. But there can be too much of a good thing. In the case of chronic inflammation, the presence of too much p100 may overactivate the developmental pathway, resulting in cancer."

In the paper, the researchers propose that thinking of the processes of defense and development as part of a single large system "represents an opportunity for therapeutic intervention." For example, it might be easier to break the link between inflammation and cancer by targeting the developmental pathway, rather than the inflammation pathway.

"Many of the developmental signals that cells use are sent outside the cell, so they should be easier to block with drugs than inflammation signals, which tend to be confined within cells," said Hoffmann. "It's more challenging to design drugs that will enter cells."

Because the molecules that play a role in the inflammation and development pathways have been extensively studied for many years, the researchers say that it is surprising to find a new molecule that significantly revises scientists' understanding about the interactions between inflammation and development. They credit their discovery to an approach that combines biochemical techniques and computation.

"Our mathematical model of inflammation and development includes 98 biochemical reactions," said Soumen Basak, a postdoctoral fellow wor
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Contact: Sherry Seethaler
sseethaler@ucsd.edu
858-534-4656
University of California - San Diego
25-Jan-2007


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