Professor Dan Davis and his team at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research, working in collaboration with global healthcare company GSK, investigated how different types of immune cells communicate with each other - and how they kill cancerous or infected cells. Their research has been published in Nature Communications.
Professor Davis says: "We studied the immune system and then stumbled across something that may explain why some drugs don't work as well as hoped. We found that immune cells secrete molecules to other cells across a very small gap. This happens when immune cells talk to each other and also, when they kill diseased cells. But crucially, some types of drugs aren't able to penetrate the gap between the cells. So they can't easily reach targets within the gap, to work effectively."
The researchers took molecules of different sizes and colours and used microscopic imaging to see which size of molecule could get into the gap between an immune cell and another cell. They found that only the smaller molecules could penetrate the gap.
They even found that when an immune cell attaches to another cell it clears out all but the smallest molecules between them.
Professor Davis explains the significance of their findings: "Our research demonstrates that any drugs targeting immune cells need to be very small. Antibody proteins, for example, are too big and aren't able to get into the gap between the cells - they're even cleared away when cells meet. To make them more effective they must be smaller - something that GSK is working on."
This research leads to new ideas for making drugs that, for example switch off immune activity in auto-immune diseases like diabetes or increasing immune reactivity to cancer. "A lot of important targets for future medicines are in the very small gap between cells. This research demonstrates why in certain cases we may need drug molecules to be smaller to work effectively," said Simon Chell, from GSK's Biopharm R&D team.
PhD student Adam Cartwright played a key role in the research, spending time at GSK as well as in Davis's lab at the University of Manchester.
He says: "Being able to test out our theory with medicines that GSK has designed was fantastic. The idea that something I had found out can be used to develop treatments to help patients is incredibly exciting."
Professor Davis, author of the popular Penguin paperback The Compatibility Gene, concludes: "The practical application of this basic research comes from bouncing around our ideas with scientists working on drug design. The interaction between academia and pharma is hugely beneficial and we hope it will lead to more effective drug treatments."
Notes for editors
Please note the embargo: 10.00am UK time, Wednesday 19 November 2014
The paper 'The immune synapse clears and excludes molecules above a size threshold' is due to be published in Nature Communications. DOI: NCOMMS6479
High resolution images on request.
The Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research The MCCIR was established in October 2012 to address current priorities in inflammatory disease in an open innovation, pre-competitive collaboration between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and The University of Manchester have each invested £5M to promote "blue skies" research over the next 5 years. Our mission is to bring together clinical, industrial, and academic scientists - and innovate at this interface or in this unique interactive environment.
Register to receive news releases: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/register-news-releases/
Media enquiries to:
Media Relations Officer
The University of Manchester
Tel: 0161 2758383
Mob: 07887 561318
Jamie Brown | EurekAlert!
Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Life Sciences