Cancer treatment that uses ionising radiation to kill tumour cells has been proven effective.
Over the past two decades, it has been evident that combining radiation therapy with immune system stimulation methods might boost treatment efficacy even more. Researchers at TU Darmstadt have built the groundwork for this.
According to study findings reported in the Journal of General Physiology, x-rays cause immune system cells to undergo a calcium signalling cascade. The latest study, which involved researchers from the clinics at the universities of Frankfurt and Homburg as well as biologists from the TU Darmstadt and the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, is garnering interest.
According to the study, when T-cells are exposed to x-rays as well, the immune system is directly stimulated, as was intended.
In a recent study, the researchers showed that clinically relevant x-ray dosages cause T cells to initiate a signalling cascade that is typical of an immunological response. This cascade starts with the release of the messenger molecule calcium (Ca2+) from internal reserves. A transcription factor is moved from the cytoplasm into the cell nucleus as a result of the activation of store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), which causes the concentration of Ca2+ in the cells to oscillate at a crucial frequency. Once there, this transcription factor starts gene expression, which causes the cell to start producing chemicals like cytokines that are crucial for the immunological response.
The stimulating action of x-rays on T lymphocytes could be used in medicine because tumour radiation always impacts the blood cells in the target area.
The long-term goal of the researchers is to improve cancer treatment through their investigations.