A molecule involved in asthma and allergies has now been shown to make mice resistant to skin cancer, according to scientists at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis. The molecule, called TSLP (thymic stromal lymphopoietin), is produced by damaged skin and activates the immune system. Chronic low levels of TSLP are suspected in making the immune system oversensitive to what should be a harmless environment, leading to the skin rashes and overproduction of mucus common in allergies and asthma.
“But at extremely high levels, TSLP appears to train the immune system to recognize skin cancer cells, and target those cells for elimination,” says Raphael Kopan, professor of developmental biology. “These experiments demonstrate that there is a way for a natural molecule to help immune cells recognize and reject tumors, at least in the skin.”
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