From TGF-β to cancer therapy

Xuemei Huang, Chung Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This article will introduce a novel concept in the use of TGF-β insensitive host immune cells in cancer therapy. TGF-β is a multi-functional cytokine. At a cellular level, it mediates cellular proliferation, growth arrest, differentiation and apoptosis. Because of the above cellular effects, TGF-β is able to regulate a host of patho-physiological events in vivo, such as normal embryonic development, angiogenesis in tumor tissues, malignant transformation and immune surveillance. As a general rule, its direct effect on cancer cells is inhibition to cancer growth. However cancer cells are able to acquire the ability to evade this inhibitory effect of TGF-β by becoming insensitive to TGF-β. Furthermore, these malignant cells are able to produce large quantities of TGF-β. The consequence of over expression of TGF-β by cancer cells is an important factor for subsequent tumor progression. The excess amount of TGF-β promotes tumor angiogenesis and immune suppression. The latter effect of TGF-β is the most devastating to the host. The present discussion is focused on the role of TGF-β insensitive immune cells in cancer growth. The host immune system offers a natural defense program against cancer. But, this natural immune surveillance is rendered ineffective by an overproduction of TGF-β derived from the tumor cells. Rendering the host immune cells insensitive to TGF-β in a gene therapy program offers a hope for us to successfully combat against cancer. Based on the above discussion, it is encouraging that there is a possibility for us to achieve a cure in cancer using TGF-β insensitive immune cells in gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Cancer therapy
  • Cycline-dependent kinases (cdks)
  • Myc family members
  • Serine/threonine kinases
  • Smad's family
  • TGF-β insensitive immune cells
  • TGF-β receptors (TβR-I, TβR-II, TβR-III)
  • Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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