Stopping Liver Cancer In Its Tracks

Researchers have discovered that AIM also can prevent
tumor development.
A research group has discovered that AIM (Apoptosis Inhibitor of Macrophage), a protein that plays a preventive role in obesity progression, can also prevent tumor development in mice liver cells. This discovery may lead to a therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer and the third most common cause of cancer deaths. The research was published in Cell Reports.
 
The researchers have shown that AIM (also known as CD5L) accumulates on the cell membrane of HCC cells, where it triggers the complement cascade, a highly efficient process of eliminating cancerized cells. Experiments showed that mice unable to produce AIM fed on a high-fat diet for a year developed multiple liver tumors. Additionally, when the same type of mice on the same diet for 45 weeks, at which point they would have already developed HCC, showed no signs of HCC after treatment with AIM, indicating that cancerous cells were being destroyed.
 
The group had previously found AIM, and identified its supportive role for the immune system and a protective role in obesity progression of fat cells. Now they have found that AIM is involved in eliminating cancerized cells. The group revealed that AIM accumulates on the surface of mice HCC cells, but not on normal cells and showed that AIM interferes with proteins that normally suppress the complement cascade, triggering a process that leads to necrosis and elimination of the cancerous cells.
 
Given that AIM also gathers on the surface of human HCC, it may be possible to develop AIM as a therapy for human HCC.
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