Research at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania found the diabetes treatment metformin, increases the efficiency of the immune system’s T-cells, which in turn makes cancer and virus-fighting vaccines more effective.
The study shows the T-cells – the white blood cells of the human immune system- remember pathogens they have encountered from previous infections or vaccinations, allowing them to fight infections much faster. Researchers found they can use diabetic therapies to manipulate T-cell response and enhance the immune system’s response to infections and cancer.
“Many genes involved in diabetes regulation also play a role in cancer progression,” Dr. Russell Jones, an assistant professor at McGill’s Goodman Cancer Centre and the Department of Physiology was quoted saying. “There is also a significant body of data suggesting that diabetics are more prone to certain cancers. However, our study is the first to suggest that by targeting the same metabolic pathways that play a role in diabetes, you can alter how well your immune system functions.”
Recent advances have shown common links between cancer and diabetes, in particular, how metabolic pathways, the basis chemical reactions that happen in our cells, are controlled in these diseases. The results suggest that common diabetic therapies which change cellular metabolism may improve T-cell memory, providing a boost to the immune system.
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