Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) – the two autoimmune diseases covered by the thesis – can follow vastly different courses, with symptoms ranging from insignificant to life-threatening, the reason for which has been largely unknown. In the thesis the researchers have now found a factor in the immune defence that can explain this mechanism.
The immune system’s white blood cells play an important role in the fight against invading micro-organisms. They contain an enzyme called NADPH oxidase, which converts oxygen into reactive oxygen radicals. It has long been known that these oxygen radicals stop infections by breaking down micro-organisms. New studies using animal models have shown that inadequate production of oxygen radicals can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases, where a patient’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. This would indicate that oxygen radicals are important for preventing the occurrence of autoimmune diseases.
“We wanted to look at this in humans, and examined the NADPH oxidase in the white blood cells of patients with MS, GBS and recurring GBS (RGBS),” says Natalia Mossberg, doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy. “The results show that patients with more severe forms of the illness have lower levels of oxygen radical production in their white blood cells as a result of deficient NADPH oxidase function.”
The researchers discovered that the body’s ability to produce reactive oxygen radicals at an early stage in the immune defence against infections has a major impact on how these illnesses develop. “We’ve shown that a strong but controlled production of oxygen radicals by the immune system is important for subduing illnesses such as MS and GBS,” says Mossberg.
The researchers think that this method of measuring oxygen radical production in white blood cells can be used for investigating other autoimmune diseases and for diagnosing the severity of these illnesses. The discovery could also lead to a new approach to the treatment of MS in its early stages with medicines that trigger the production of NADPH oxidase or a vaccination for people at risk of developing this type of illness.AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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