These parasites are long lived (>10 years) and dwell within blood vessels, where they produce eggs that become the focus of intense, chronic inflammatory responses. In severe cases, this inflammation is associated with life-threatening liver disease.
No vaccine is currently available to prevent schistosomiasis. Options for treating the disease are largely limited to one drug, Praziquantel. Rates of re-infection in drug-treated individuals are high, and it is feared that widespread use may foster the emergence of drug-resistant variants, such as has seen with drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis.
The body's immune response to schistosome infection, as with all immune responses, is coordinated by cytokines, small proteins secreted by immune cells. Due to their fundamental importance, cytokine research is a significant focus of research at the Trudeau Institute. Because cytokines travel through the body to relay critical information, it is difficult to identify the cells that produce them and to learn about their role.
Trudeau investigators have devised cytokine "reporter mice" for tracking cells that produce the signature cytokine of the so-called "Th2" immune response mounted against infections with parasitic worms, interleukin-4 (IL-4).
While it was previously known that the complex mixture of proteins released by schistosome eggs induce Th2 responses and the production of IL-4, the specific molecule(s) responsible for these effects were unknown.
Research from the laboratories of Markus Mohrs of the Trudeau Institute and Gabriele Schramm of the Research Centre Borstel in Germany had previously shown that a protein called alpha-1 can support Th2 responses but is unable to initiate them.
However, new findings from an international study between Mohrs, Schramm, and Maria Yazdanbaksh of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands have now shown that omega-1, a single protein secreted from schistosome eggs, recapitulates the activities of the complex mixture in the test tube (in vitro).
Importantly, using IL-4 reporter mice, the researchers show that omega-1 alone is sufficient to generate Th2 responses in vivo. This identification of a single protein will undoubtedly aid in unlocking the molecular pathways inducing Th2 responses commonly elicited by infection with parasitic worms.
Ultimately, these novel insights will help researchers in the field like Dr. Yazdanbaksh, who, in addition to her laboratory research, also oversees studies in schistosomiasis patients in Africa.
These findings are reported in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
As with all basic research discoveries, incremental advances such as these may eventually lead to new treatments and therapies that will improve the day-to-day lives of the 200 million people around the globe currently afflicted by schistosomiasis. Moreover, these Th2 responses, described above in the context of worm infections, are also associated with the clinical symptoms of allergic and asthmatic disorders. Thus, understanding the immune response to infection with parasitic worms might aid in ameliorating allergy and asthma common in industrialized countries.
The Trudeau Institute is an independent, not-for-profit biomedical research organization, whose scientific mission is to make breakthrough discoveries leading to improved human health. Trudeau researchers are identifying the basic mechanisms used by the immune system to combat viruses like influenza, mycobacteria, such as tuberculosis, parasites and cancer, so that better vaccines and therapies can be developed for fighting deadly disease. The research is supported by government grants and philanthropic contributions.
Brian Turner | EurekAlert!
Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering