The results are featured on the cover of the latest issue of 'Genes and Development'
The c-Fos oncogene has traditionally been linked to cellular activities related to cancer, such as cell division, differentiation-conversion from one cell type to another-or survival. Any alteration of these activities can set off the development of tumours, which has made c-Fos an important target for the understanding and treatment of cancer.
A study led by Erwin Wagner, head of the F-BBVA-CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Programme and of the Genes, Development and Disease Group, has revealed a novel mechanism in which c-Fos is able to promote skin cancer: an increase in c-Fos expression in the skin stimulates the immune system, which induces the appearance of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), one of the most aggressive skin cancers.
Another important result from this study is the observation in mice of a decrease in the progression of SCCs by using anti-inflammatory drugs, which block the immune response induced by c-Fos. The conclusions are published in the latest issue of the journal Genes and Development, and are featured on its cover.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
The classic way of looking at inflammatory immune response, which is more than 100 years old, asserts that defence mechanisms protect the organism when faced with neoplasms. This vision has given way over the last few years to new evidence that suggests chronic inflammation favours the proliferation and survival of tumour cells, thus increasing susceptibility to cancer.
"We know that there are cancers, like pancreatic, liver or colon cancer, in which the inflammatory component plays a very important role in the development of the disease", says Juan Guinea-Viniegra, a researcher from Wagner's team.
Furthermore, inflammatory skin diseases, such as lupus or chronic ulcers, predispose patients to develop tumours, although for now the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon had not been discovered.