Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

GARP makes the difference

17.06.2009
Researchers develop key brake for immune cells in petri dish -- hope for easier organ transplantation?

Scientists from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany and the Medical School Hannover, Germany have succeeded in treating immune cells in a way that enables them to inhibit unwanted immune reactions such as organ rejection. Their results have now been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

The immune system keeps us healthy: day and night it protects us against invading and harmful pathogens. But this fulltime surveillance can also turn into a problem, for example after an organ transplant. The immune system recognizes the new organ as "foreign" and starts fighting it. In the end, the life-saving transplant will be rejected. Until now, only special drugs have managed to keep the immune system silent and thus inhibit organ rejection.

Theoretically, these drugs are not necessary because the immune system has its own unique "peace makers": regulatory T cells (Tregs), a special group of helper T cells, an important cell type of the immune system. Tregs inhibit immune reactions and are thus of special medical interest. Until now, distinguishing between Tregs and helper T cells has represented a problem for scientists. Now, in co-operation with the Medical School Hannover, researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig have identified a molecular factor that plays an essential role in Treg function. This protein constitutes the key difference between Tregs and helper T cells. Furthermore, the scientists have also generated Tregs from helper T cells that permanently maintained their characteristics.

The key to Tregs is called "GARP". Michael Probst-Kepper is a researcher in a junior research group that is financed by the German Volkswagen foundation, he works at both HZI and MHH. He has now deciphered the special role of the GARP protein. Until now, scientists had only little distinguishing features to aid them in separating T cells that trigger a transplant rejection from those that inhibit such a reaction: they mainly looked at molecular features that both cell types have – the one more, the other less. "It's like looking at two cars that appear to be the same. Except that one is capable of driving while the other doesn't drive anymore. But you cannot see that from the outside," says Michael Probst-Kepper. He deciphered the role of GARP: this new-found factor only exists in Tregs and initiates a complex network of various molecules. "If you don't want a car to drive anymore, you pull the key out and cut the petrol pipe. GARP does the same: it prevents Tregs from stepping on the gas."

The scientist artificially inserted GARP into those T cells that start an immune reaction against transplants. The result was a substantial advance for medicine: the transplant-rejecting T cells developed permanently into Tregs – those cells that inhibit the activation of aggressive T cells and thus prevent organ rejection. Furthermore, the researchers also furnished the counter evidence: Michael Probst-Kepper muted the GARP gene in Tregs. As a result, the Tregs lost their "peace making" characteristics. "The cells could start driving again," he says. "With this study we were able to show the complexity of the Treg system for the first time, developing a powerful tool for medicine to develop new therapies and drugs."

Article: GARP: a key receptor controlling FOXP3 in human regulatory T cells. Probst-Kepper M, Geffers R, Kröger A, Viegas N, Erck C, Hecht HJ, Luensdorf H, Roubin R, Moharregh-Khiabani D, Wagner K, Ocklenburg F, Jeron A, Garritsen H, Arstila TP, Kekaelaeinen E, Balling R, Hauser H, Buer J, Weiss S. J Cell Mol Med. 2009 May 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Dr. Bastian Dornbach | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>