UC Riverside discovery of electrostatic force field could inform future development of needle-free vaccines
Ripping a page from the Star Trek script, specialized cells of the barrier that lines the inside of the intestines and airways of humans have invoked a biological version of Captain Kirk's famous command "shields up" as a first defense against invading microbes.
Research in the UCR School of Medicine laboratory of David Lo found that certain cells of the epithelium have a potentially important role in immune surveillance – creating an electrostatic repulsion field to microbial invasion.
The study is featured on the cover of the July issue of Infection and Immunity, a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology. Co-authors of the study are Kaila M. Bennett, one of Lo's graduate students, and Sharon L. Walker, a UCR professor of chemical and environmental engineering.
The finding improves scientists' understanding of the densely packed protrusions – resembling a carpet – on the surface of some cells that line the insides of the intestines and respiratory system. The protrusions, which biologists call microvilli, increase the surface area of cells and have a role in absorbing nutrients, for instance.
But Lo's laboratory has found that the microvilli actually repel negatively charged bacteria and viruses, suggesting a protective "shield" akin to the force field that envelops the Enterprise in the plots of many "Star Trek" television episodes and movies.
"This is a whole new way of looking at immune surveillance in the epithelium of the human gut and airway," said Lo, a distinguished professor in the medical school's Division of Biomedical Sciences. "If we can take advantage of this electrostatic repulsion, it could improve the diagnosis and treatment of certain bacterial infections."
A number of bacterial and viral infections can gain a foothold in the human body through adsorption via the intestines and airways, such as Salmonella and the flu.
Lo's laboratory has for more than a dozen years studied immune responses in the gut and airways, focusing particularly on cells which function as an early warning in the immune system. "We study the role of certain epithelial cells in the immune system. By understanding how the immune system is able to capture and carry viruses and bacteria across this barrier to trigger a protective immune, we may be able to design better synthetic vaccines, including needle-free vaccines," Lo said.
Lo joined UCR in 2006. In addition to his faculty position in the UCR School of Medicine Division of Biomedical Sciences, he is affiliated with the UCR Center for Disease Vector Research and the UC Global Health Institute. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (2007) and a 2005 recipient of a "Grand Challenges in Global Health" award, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.
Kathy Barton | Eurek Alert!
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences