Tumors have numerous specific antigens on their surface but are still capable of avoiding immune-mediated destruction. In October Nature Medicine, Leonid Gorelik and Richard Flavell from Yale University School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute New Haven, Connecticut, show that immune-mediated eradication of tumors can be achieved through the blockade of transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) signaling in T cells.

Using transgenic mice Gorelik & Flavell observed that T-cell–specific blockade of TGF-α signaling allows the generation of an immune response capable of eradicating tumors in mice challenged with highly metastatic melanoma and thymoma cell lines. In addition, they found that the mechanism, which leads to the enhancement of anti-tumor immunity, is likely to be brought about by the generation of increased numbers of tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (Nat Med 2001, 7:1118-1122).

These results have important implications for anti-cancer therapies. The authors say that through the viral introduction...

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