Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UBC researcher discovers ’control room’ that regulates immune responses

22.10.2003


The approximately 50 million people in the U.S. who suffer from autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, may soon be able to control their immune responses, thanks to a breakthrough discovery by a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.



Wilfred Jefferies, a professor at UBC’s Biotechnology Laboratory, has discovered and characterized the mechanics of a cellular pathway that triggers immune responses. He and his team have also uncovered a specialized cell substructure, or organelle, that dictates exactly how the immune system will be activated.

"This discovery opens the door to the immune system control room," says Jefferies, who is also a member of UBC’s Biomedical Research Centre. "We’ve found a mechanism that appears to act like a dial – it can turn immune system response up or down."


Jefferies believes that it will take about five years for scientists to use this information to create new therapies – such as medication or vaccines – to regulate immune responses in humans.

The findings have enormous implications for patients because treatment may be targeted by adjusting the "dial", says Jefferies. Immune responses may be increased to fight infection or reduced to help the body accept transplanted tissue or organs.

The work was recently published online in Nature Immunology and will be the topic of an editorial when the journal appears on newsstands in November.

The research findings can be used immediately to test exactly how the immune system responds to a variety of pathogenic organisms, including bacteria, viruses and tumours, says Jefferies, who is a member of UBC’s departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical Genetics and Zoology.

Jefferies’ research focuses on dendritic cells. A network of specialized cells, dendritic cells act as sentinels of the immune system, detecting and relaying information about illness-causing organisms or pathogens. Jefferies and his team have identified a new organelle within dendritic cells that sorts pathogens without being harmed by them and controls signals given to the immune system. The signals turn immune responses up or down, according to the type of pathogen encountered.

The immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances such as microorganisms, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person. Immune system disorders are conditions where the immune response is over-active, reduced or absent.


The research team includes UBC graduate students Greg Lizee, Jacqueline Tiong, Meimei Tian and Kaan Biron as well as post-doctoral fellow Gene Basha. UBC researchers, who conduct more than 5,225 investigations annually, attracted $377 million in research funding in 2002 / 2003.

NB. Editors: Electronic images of Dr. Jefferies as well as dendrite cells are available. A brief biography is attached.

Wilfred Jefferies

Prof. Wilfred Jefferies completed his PhD at Oxford University after obtaining a BSc from University of Victoria in British Columbia.

His completed research training at centres that include Sweden’s Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, part of the Karolinska Institute, one of Europe’s largest medical universities, as well as at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research. In 1989, he was recruited to UBC by the late Michael Smith, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Jefferies’ work has explored the function of a brain protein called melanotransferrin that plays a key role in iron transport in central nervous system. He and colleagues discovered a link between the action of this molecule and Alzheimer’s disease. Another area of interest is looking at how the immune system detects aggressive cancer cells and how viruses become recognized by host lymphocytes. He has been involved in using TAP genes to resurrect the immune response in patients with metastatic tumours and the development of new tumour vaccines.

The author of numerous publications, Jefferies is funded by major agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Hilary Thomson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ubc.ca/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Are there sustainable solutions in dealing with dwindling phosphorus resources?
16.10.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Nutzierbiologie (FBN)

nachricht Strange undertakings: ant queens bury dead to prevent disease
13.10.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

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...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

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...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

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...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>