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T cell immune system regulator identified by researchers

A new study has discovered two enzymes which regulate a biological switch that controls the immune system, providing the potential to develop targeted therapies.

A key biological switch that controls regulatory T cells has been discovered by researchers. The team behind the findings say that their study provides an array of options for drug development.

…mTORC1 controls the immune system, but the mechanisms behind this remained unknown”

The researchers at St Jude’s Research Hospital, US, say that boosting or suppressing the activity of the switch could be used to treat cancer or autoimmune disorders.

Previous studies have shown that mTORC1 controls the immune system, but the mechanisms behind this remained unknown until now.

The researchers studied mice and revealed that two central mTORC1 regulators are enzymes called Rag and Rheb. The models lacking these enzymes developed autoimmune disease, indicating their vital role.   

Amino acids that play a major role in activating mTORC1 in regulatory T cells were found to be mediated by Rag and Rheb.

The team say that drugs activating these enzymes could prove as useful treatments for autoimmune diseases; therapies that enhance regulatory T cell function could therefore act as immune regulators.

The study’s results may also be used to improve cancer immunotherapy, according to the researchers.

The findings were published in Immunity.

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