The discovery could lead to new treatment avenues for leukemia and
MONTREAL, April 8, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - A team of researchers at the
IRCM, led by André Veillette, MD, explains how our immune system kills
abnormal blood cells. Their discovery, recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, could eventually lead to new treatment avenues for leukemia, lymphoma
and certain types of infectious viral diseases.
"Our team is studying how natural killer cells can eliminate abnormal
hematopoietic (blood) cells," explains Dr. Veillette, Director of the
Molecular Oncology research unit at the IRCM. "NK (natural killer)
cells are crucial to the immune system and play a critical role in
protecting us against viruses and cancer cells."
In a previous study, the IRCM researchers found the SAP molecule to be
an essential component of NK cells' ability to kill abnormal blood
cells, which can be found in blood cancers such as leukemia and
lymphoma, as well as in certain infectious viral diseases like
"In addition to SAP, a protein called EAT-2 can also be found in NK
cells," adds Dr. Veillette. "We knew that EAT-2 cooperates with SAP,
and, with this research project, we wanted to better understand why
they are both required for the proper functioning of NK cells."
Using a variety of genetic, biochemical and imaging approaches, the
researchers successfully defined the molecular and cellular mechanisms
by which EAT-2 controls the activation of NK cells.
"We identified the molecular chain of events that occur, and showed that
EAT-2 and SAP perform different functions using distinct mechanisms,"
says Dr. Veillette. "These findings explain the cooperative and
essential function of these two molecules in activating NK cells,
thereby allowing them to kill abnormal blood cells."
"EAT-2 and SAP are molecules found inside NK cells, and they are linked
to receptors of the SLAM family on the cell surface," concludes Dr.
Veillette. "Because they can make better drug targets, our future work
will focus on these receptors, which could eventually lead to
identifying new potential treatment avenues for blood cancers such as
leukemia and lymphoma."
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, one person in
Canada is diagnosed with a blood cancer approximately every 28 minutes.
In 2013, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes
caused an estimated 6,850 deaths in the country. Leukemia and lymphoma
also account for almost half of all childhood cancers (age 0-14 years).
About the study
Dr. Veillette's research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and the Canada
Research Chairs program. The project was conducted at the IRCM by
Luis-Alberto Pérez-Quintero (first author of the study), Romain
Roncagalli, Huaijian Guo, Dominique Davidson and André Veillette, in
collaboration with Sylvain Latour from the Institut des maladies
génétiques Imagine in Paris.
For more information, please refer to the article summary published
online by the Journal of Experimental Medicine: http://jem.rupress.org/content/early/2014/03/25/jem.20132038.abstract.
About André Veillette
André Veillette obtained his medical degree from the Université Laval.
He is Full IRCM Research Professor and Director of the Molecular
Oncology research unit. Dr. Veillette is full research professor in the
Department of Medicine (accreditation in molecular biology) at the
Université de Montréal. He is also adjunct professor in the Department
of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine) at McGill University.
Dr. Veillette holds the Canada Research Chair in Immune System
Signalling. For more information, visit www.ircm.qc.ca/veillette.
About the IRCM
Founded in 1967, the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (www.ircm.qc.ca) is currently comprised of 35 research units in various fields, namely
immunity and viral infections, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,
cancer and genetic diseases, neurobiology and development, systems
biology and medicinal chemistry. It also houses four specialized
research clinics (cholesterol, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and obesity,
hypertension), eight core facilities and three research platforms with
state-of-the-art equipment. The IRCM employs 425 people and is an
independent institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. The
IRCM Clinic is associated to the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de
Montréal (CHUM). The IRCM also maintains a long-standing association
with McGill University. The IRCM is funded by the Quebec ministry of
Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.
SOURCE: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)
For further information:
and to schedule an interview with Dr. Veillette, please contact:
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