By the time an anthrax victim realizes he or she has something worse than the flu and seeks treatment, it's often too late; even the most powerful antibiotics may be no help against the spreading bacteria and the potent toxins they generate.
Now, though, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have found new allies for the fight against anthrax. Known as natural killer cells, they're a part of the immune system normally associated with eliminating tumor cells and cells infected by viruses. But natural killer cells also attack bacteria -- including anthrax, according to the UTMB group.
"People become ill so suddenly from inhalational anthrax that there isn't time for a T cell response, the more traditional cellular immune response," said UTMB assistant professor Janice Endsley, lead author of a paper now online in the journal Infection and Immunity. "NK cells can do a lot of the same things, and they can do them immediately."
In test-tube experiments, a collaborative team led by Endsley and Professor Johnny Peterson profiled the NK cell response to anthrax, documenting how NK cells successfully detected and killed cells that had been infected by anthrax, destroying the bacteria inside the cells along with them. Surprisingly, they found that NK cells were also able to detect and kill anthrax bacteria outside of human cells.
"Somehow these NK cells were able to recognize that there was something hostile there, and they actually caused the death of these bacteria," Endsley said.
In further experiments, the group compared the anthrax infection responses of normal mice and mice that were given a treatment to remove NK cells from the body. All the mice died with equal rapidity when given a large dose of anthrax spores, but the non-treated (NK cell-intact) mice had much lower levels of bacteria in their blood. "This is a significant finding," Endsley said. "Growth of bacteria in the bloodstream is an important part of the disease process."
The next step, according to Endsley, is to apply an existing NK cell-augmentation technique (many have already been developed for cancer research) to mice, in an attempt to see if the more numerous and active NK cells can protect them from anthrax. Even if the augmented NK cells don't provide enough protection by themselves, they could give a crucial boost in combination with antibiotic treatment.
"We may not be able to completely control something just by modulating the immune response," Endsley said. "But if we can complement antibiotic effects and improve the efficiency of antibiotics, that would be of value as well."
Jim Kelly | 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