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!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy