Molecular Link between Inflammation & Cancer Discovered

According to, a study published in the January 26 issue of the journal Cell has found what could be a long-elusive mechanism through which inflammation can promote cancer. The findings may provide a new approach for developing cancer therapies.

‘Although there is plenty of evidence that chronic inflammation can promote cancer, the cause of this relationship is not understood,’ says Alexander Hoffmann, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at U.C. San Diego, who led the study. ‘We have identified a basic cellular mechanism that we think may be linking chronic inflammation and cancer.’

A protein called p100 allows communication between the inflammation and development processes. Some amount of dialogue is beneficial, but too much dialogue (which results from chornic inflammation) can lead to unrestrained development (cancer).

‘Studies with animals have shown that a little inflammation is necessary for the normal development of the immune system and other organ systems,’ explains Hoffmann. ‘We discovered that the protein p100 provides the cell with a way in which inflammation can influence development. But there can be too much of a good thing. In the case of chronic inflammation, the presence of too much p100 may overactivate the developmental pathway, resulting in cancer.’

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America and the American Heart Association.

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