Volume 9, Winter 2013
Elizabeth Platz and Nrupen Bhavsar: Interleukin-10
may help protect against prostate cancer by blocking
For several years now, a multidisciplinary team of investigators at Johns Hopkins has been trying to figure out whether inflammation (and the body's immune response) has anything to do with prostate cancer. Several findings suggest that it does; for example, pathologists Angelo De Marzo and Jonathan Epstein have identified and characterized a type of inflammation found in biopsied prostate cells that seems to be a precursor to PIN (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia), a type of "funny-looking" cells often found near cancer cells. Geneticist William Isaacs is studying genes related to the body's ability to fight inflammation that may be disabled in cancer. Oncologist William Nelson has spent years looking at the oxidative damage to cells caused by certain foods, and investigating possible steps between this oxidative damage, inflammation and cancer.
Men who have higher levels of a naturally
Part of their research has focused on a naturally occurring chemical called interleukin- 10 (IL-10). This is a cytokine, an anti-inflammatory agent that regulates the body's ability to fight off countless foreign invaders including germs, pollen, and even cancer. Her team recently reported that men who produce more IL-10 were associated with lower risks of prostate cancer developing and recurring after treatment. Platz speculates that IL-10 may help protect against prostate cancer by blocking production of inflammatory agents. It also may put up roadblocks that hinder cancer's ability to spread beyond the prostate. With support from the Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund, the investigators' next step was to look for a link between the risk of prostate cancer and blood levels of IL-10 or other cytokines, measured months to years before the diagnosis. The A. Ross Myers family donated the money that supported this project.
Maybe one day, if scientists can boost
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