A simple mineral we all learned about in high school PE class could be the active ingredient in a new method of cancer treatment and prevention. In this way, magnesium has gone from being something to help us play sports longer to something that lets us play life longer.
That’s because magnesium acts like a bridge between killer T cells, a critical immune system weapon, and cancerous cells by binding to a protein on the T cell’s exterior called LFA-1, which allows them to then hone in on cancer cells which in turn have many ways to disguise themselves ordinarily.
Cell-surface binding and receptor proteins are areas of key interactions in studying physiological effects, and the COVID-19 pandemic taught many people how important these interactions, sometimes called docking, can be to our health.
The research came from a recent paper published in Cell, which found that killer T cells were only able to eliminate cancerous or infected cells in rats if their LFA-1 proteins had bound with free available magnesium.
In light of their discoveries, the research team from Switzerland looked at past studies of cancer immunotherapies and found that low-magnesium concentrations were strongly linked to a more rapid progression of disease. In addition, they found that influenza and other viruses spread faster in mice that were fed a magnesium deficient diet.
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