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Sep 13, 2022

Drug turns cancer gene into ‘eat me’ flag for immune system

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Tumor cells are notoriously good at evading the human immune system; they put up physical walls, wear disguises and handcuff the immune system with molecular tricks. Now, UC San Francisco researchers have developed a drug that overcomes some of these barriers, marking cancer cells for destruction by the immune system.

The new therapy, described in Cancer Cell, pulls a mutated version of the protein KRAS to the surface of , where the drug-KRAS complex acts as an “eat me” flag. Then, an immunotherapy can coax the immune system to effectively eliminate all cells bearing this flag.

“The immune system already has the potential to recognize mutated KRAS, but it usually can’t find it very well. When we put this marker on the protein, it becomes much easier for the immune system,” said UCSF chemist and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., who also helped lead the new work.

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