Thought Leadership

Holistic care is an integral aspect of the fight against cancer care which lays equal emphasis on the physical and psycho-social needs of patients.
Dr. B. S. Ajaikumar

Researchers discover protein masquerading as virus in certain tumours

  • Date: 2024-03-04 05:35:02
  • Author: Dr. BS Ajaikumar
image description
Researchers discover protein masquerading as virus in certain tumours

An extremely rare but alarmingly serious complication of cancer makes the immune system go rogue, which then attacks the brain to cause rapid-onset memory loss and cognitive deficits. The cause of this biological mayhem was hitherto unknown, but University of Utah Health researchers have now found that some tumors can release a protein PNMA2 which resembles a virus, and kickstarts an out-of-control immune reaction that could cause memory and behavioural changes, loss of coordination, and even seizures.

PNMA2 is normally is expressed in the brain but when a tumor elsewhere in the body starts producing PNMA2 protein, the immune system treats it like an foreign invader and doesn't just attack the cancer-produced PNMA2 but also parts of the brain that produce PNMA2 normally, including regions involved in memory, learning, and movement.

The researchers are now studying what causes patients' rapid cognitive decline: whether antibodies, or immune cells entering the brain, or a combination of the two.