Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

LIAI scientists discover cellular switch for controlling immune system function

12.09.2005


Research could lead to future treatment advancements for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases



A major finding by researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) has identified a previously unknown cellular mechanism that acts as an off switch for immune system function. The discovery could lead to the future development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

In autoimmune diseases, the immune system, which normally wards off invading viruses and bacteria, instead mistakenly attacks normal body tissues, leading to illness. "By understanding this cellular process for turning off immune system activity, we are hopeful this will lead to new treatments that will stop unwanted immune responses, such as those which occur in autoimmune diseases," said LIAI scientist Carl Ware, Ph.D., who co-led the study with LIAI researcher Chris Benedict, Ph.D. The research team also involved scientists from Rush Medical Center and Northwestern University in Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis.


The findings will be published September 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in a paper entitled, "Evolutionarily Divergent Herpesviruses Modulate T cell activation by Targeting the Herpesvirus Entry Mediator (HVEM) Cosignaling Pathway."

Jennifer Gommerman, Ph.D., and Tania Watts, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto’s Department of Immunology, who co-wrote a PNAS commentary on the paper scheduled for online publication this week, called the findings a significant advancement. "This discovery underscores the importance of this pathway in immune regulation and advances our knowledge of how to develop effective treatments for certain illnesses."

In the study, the team of scientists looked at two members of the herpes family of viruses, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus, because of their ability to lay dormant in the immune system without causing disease. "These viruses teach us how to manipulate the immune system," Dr. Ware said. "We found that these two very different viruses were attacking the same communication pathway in the immune system." By disrupting that pathway, the viruses were keeping T lymphocytes - which are white blood cells that fight disease - from communicating with other cells in the immune system. "It’s kind of like jamming a phone system," Dr. Ware explained. "If communication gets cut off, messages won’t get through and nothing is going to get done."

Central in the viruses’ ability to manipulate immune system communication was a cellular protein called the Herpesvirus Entry Mediator (HVEM), which the scientists found effectively worked as an "off and on switch" for immune responses. Several cellular proteins -- members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family -- interact with HVEM to enable this immune system communication switch. HVEM is part of a larger TNF family of molecules involved in a wide variety of important immune system functions. The finding is the latest from Dr. Ware’s laboratory involving TNF receptors, which he has been studying for more than 20 years. Drugs targeted at the TNF family are prominent treatments against some autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., LIAI President and Scientific Director, said the team’s findings are regarded as very exciting by the scientific community. "This research could one day lead to the development of drugs that mimic the action of HVEM," he said. "That could give medical science a new method for reducing or even stopping the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases."

The findings also have implications beyond autoimmune disease, including possible application in treatments for infectious diseases and cancer. "An important part of our findings is that HVEM can not only switch off immune system response but it can also switch it on," Dr. Ware said. "This may be valuable in fighting infectious disease, where the body needs a stronger immune response. It also could aid in prompting immune cells to attack cancerous cells."

In addition to Ware and Benedict, other researchers participating in the study from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology were Timothy Cheung, Ian Humphreys, Karen Potter, Paula Norris, Heather Shumway, Bonnie Tran, Ginelle Patterson, Rochelle Jean-Jacques and Miri Yoon. In Chicago, researchers participating were Patricia Spear from Northwestern University and Nell Lurain from Rush Medical Center, and in St. Louis, Kenneth Murphy from Washington University. The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Bonnie Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.liai.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>