Henning Walczak: ”We have all the mechanisms at our disposal to know the enemy and fight it”

The Walczak research group aims at understanding how the immune system specifically attacks the cancer and to uncover the mechanisms used by tumors to counteract these attacks. The researcher has explained his research in the TRAIL signaling pathway (TNF– related apoptosis-inducing ligand) to discover new therapeutic targets that can be combined with other drugs causing death of tumor cells. So that, Walczak explained, “we can predict whether the drug combinations with TRAIL receptor agonists can be applied successfully or not a particular patient with a particular tumor.” In fact there are currently several TRAIL-R agonists in clinical trials but Henning Walczak said that “the logic of the industry is not allowing, for the moment, find the appropriate drug combinations that can be effective for personalized cancer treatment”.

Walczak also explained the results of his study published in Nature that describes how a protein called Sharpin interferes with TNF-induced cell death, and thereby prevents inflammation. The results, said the researcher, provides evidence for the relevance of linear ubiquitination in vivo in preventing inflammation and regulating immune signaling. These could be key factors in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease among others.

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