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 Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>