Source specific effects of Interleukin 2 on the immune response

Researchers have identified source-specific effects of the signalling molecule interleukin 2 (IL2) on the immune response. IL2 is an important signalling molecule that has been harnessed as a biologie therapy for a number of diseases but can result in unwanted side-effects. This study, conducted using new mouse models, found that the immune response to IL2 is dependent on the cellular source of the IL2 production. Their new insight explains the link between IL2 treatments and side-effects, opening up the potential to apply this powerful immune modulator to optimise treatments while avoiding off-target effects.

A detailed update to our understanding of the key immune system signaling molecule interleukin 2 has been published recentlv by researchers at the Babraham Institute. Their findings explain common side eftects of IL2-based therapies, and identify potential new uses of IL2 as an immune-modulating biologic drug.

This research was only possible thanks to a new mouse model which allowed researchers to control which immune cell types produced IL2. With further research, this understanding of the rules dictating which cells respond to IL2 could allow scientists to optimise autoimmune and cancer treatment while avoiding unwanted side-effects. IL2 is involved in a large number of different communication networks in the immune system, being produced by a variety of cellular sources and affecting a diversity of cell ‘responders’.

It is not only needed for maintaining regulatory T cells, which prevent our body’s immune system from attacking itself, but also CD8 T  cells, which attack tumour cells and virus-infected cells. Owing to this dual functionality, IL2 has been harnessed to both promote an immune response, and limit one, depending on the target cells. Despite being actively explored in hundreds of ongoing clinical trials, the full therapeutic potential is currently limited by frequently. encountered side-effects.

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