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A super kind of cytokine

Stanford and Zurich researchers have engineered a variant of IL-2 that shows a better antitumor response in mice than wild-type IL-2.1 The new IL-2 superkine variant, dubbed super-2, has been licensed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which is planning additional preclinical studies of the compound.

IL-2 is an immunostimulatory cytokine that binds and activates a wide range of immune cells. Novartis AG markets Proleukin aldesleukin IL-2 to treat metastatic melanoma and renal cancer.

In patients with metastatic melanoma or metastatic renal cell carcinoma, high-dose IL-2 delivery, either alone or in combination with tumor vaccines, has led to therapeutic responses in about 13%-20% of cases and to long-term survival in about 10% of cases.2 However, components of IL-2's biology have limited its use.

One of the three parts of the cytokine's receptor complex-IL-2 receptor α-chain (IL2-RA; CD25)-is

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