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 Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

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

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>