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Autoimmune disease cells harnessed to fight cancer

Autoimmune disease has devastating consequences for healthy tissue. Now, in mice, the same cells that can drive the body to destroy its own tissue have been used to fight cancerMovie Camera.

The cells are a recently discovered type of immune cell called Th17. These cells play a key role in autoimmune disease – in which the immune system mistakenly identifies the body's own tissues as foreign and attack them.

We already know that some people's immune systems have a natural ability to fight some types of cancer. But how exactly this works – and why it doesn't always do so – isn't known.

Discovered in 2005, Th17 cells are thought to have a part in triggering the inflammation and tissue injury associated with autoimmune diseases. But they also have a helpful role in fighting bacterial infections.
 
 

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