Many may be wondering how exactly the immune system and cancer are interrelated. It’s quite complex given that it has taken decades of countless scientific research in search of the cure. The goal is to break this cancer into its basic mechanisms to fully understand its totality and appreciate its processes. In general, the immune system works by fighting against any harmful substances such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and cancer cells. Something important to note is that your own cells and immune system can and will betray you.
Pentoxifylline, sold under the brand name Trental is typically used for vascular disease to increase blood flow due to its effect in reducing blood viscosity. However, there is a gene called c-Rel that is important to maintain the function of regulatory cells such as Tregs and MDSC. As I have discussed, the immune system has two sides, one that is regulatory, which has been tricked by cancer to protect it. There is the other side that can attack cancer.
Our goal is to tip the balance in favor of attacking cancer. In a study published by Grinberg-Bleyer, et al in Cell, Sept 7, 2017, titled “NF-kB c-Rel Is Crucial for the Regulatory T Cell Immune Checkpoint in Cancer” they describe how blocking c-Rel can reduce the regulatory function of Tregs. In addition, Li, et al published in Nature Cancer, May 18, 2020, an article titled “c-Rel is a Myeloid Checkpoint for Cancer Immunotherapy” which discusses MDSC.
Immune response in cancer treatments has been studied for over decades and to this day continues to be closely researched in an attempt to provide a less invasive treatment for patients. Thanks to medical research, patients and physicians have access to seventeen immunotherapy FDA approved treatments. This ongoing mission is one of great value and in today’s blog we will be exploring more interesting details about the immune system and cancer.
Selenium plays a vital role in many biological processes and has been shown to enhance immunotherapy’s ability for cancer to work better potentially. When we look at selenium, the more active metabolite is methylselenol. Three forms of selenium convert to methylselenol. These are methylselenocysteine (MSC), selenomethionine (SM), and methylselenic acid. Only the first two, MSC and SM, are found in typical selenium supplements. Of those two, MSC is more effective in converting to the most active form. However, cancer may have low enzyme levels that convert MSC into the active form, making it less effective.