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Infection, cancer and autoimmune diseases appear to have little in common. However, a newly discovered white blood cell type called TH17 may have major roles in all three types of diseases.
These cells normally fight infection but also appear to promote destructive inflammation in autoimmune disease or inflammation that assists cancer cell growth.
Burnet Institute is trying to find out why the immune system attacks normal cells it should ignore in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, but in cancer ignores the cells it should attack, and how is it that infectious agents avoid immune destruction.