Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Insight on fruit fly immune system could lead to new types of vaccines

12.03.2007
The tiny fruit fly has a lot to teach humans. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found for the first time that flies' primitive immune systems may develop long-term protection from infection, an ability previously thought impossible for insects.

The findings could have implications for new ways of developing human vaccines, especially for people with compromised immune systems.

The evidence that a fruit fly's immune response can adapt to - or retain memory of - an earlier infection contradicts the long-held dogma that immune memory cannot exist in invertebrates such as insects. Such memory of a specific pathogen, known as adaptation, is supposed to be a hallmark of the higher-level immune system response of humans and other vertebrates.

The Stanford work raises the possibility that humans could make use of this rudimentary immune response if their higher-level system is crippled. "It's a springboard to looking at the immune system in a whole new way," said David Schneider, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology and senior author of the study, which will be published in the March 9 issue of Public Library of Science-Pathogens.

... more about:
»Adaptation »Adaptive »Pham »Vaccine »innate

One of the two arms of the immune response in higher organisms is similar to that of flies. This arm is known as innate immunity, and it is thought to be a primitive first-line, nonspecific response to a pathogen "invader." The other arm found in higher organisms is adaptive immunity, which has a memory that retains an internal record of contact with an invader and - employing T and B cells - springs into action once it encounters the same invader again. This adaptive immunity explains why a vaccine provides protection.

"AIDS patients are like fruit flies in the sense that they don't have properly functioning T cells," said Schneider. "If there is anything we could do to make their remaining innate immunity better through adaptation, that would be really helpful."

Harnessing the potential power of adaptation in the innate immune system might also be a boon in the body's defense against bioterrorism or disease pandemics. "The B and T cells of the adaptive immune system take a long time to react," said Schneider. "But you might be able to speed things up if you could snort something up your nose that would make your innate immune system ready to fight."

While inviting novel ways of thinking about future vaccines and treating AIDS patients, the new finding immediately stirs up the field of insect immunology. Existing publications about the fruit fly's immune system explicitly state that it has no memory, and no ability to make specific long-term changes prompted by its exposure to pathogens. Because immune memory was defined as nonexistent, no one ever did the experiment to question whether the fly's immune system could adapt.

Then graduate student Linh Pham arrived in Schneider's lab. She was interested in pushing the boundaries of the assumptions of the innate immune system's limitations.

In the past decade or so, work done on fruit fly immunology has always been done on a fly infected only once - and that's not how things happen outside a lab, where a fly would be continually exposed to microbes. Pham thought to ask what happens when the flies encounter a microbe a second time.

Pham found a bacterium - Streptococcus pneumoniae - that infected the flies but didn't kill all of them. "I liken my work to the first vaccination experiments," said Pham, who is first author of the study. She essentially vaccinated over a million flies, typically doing 7,000 in a day, in numerous experiments. In a key experiment, she injected some flies with killed bacteria and others with just saline solution. She waited a week, then reinjected both groups with what should have been a lethal dose of live bacteria. Then she calculated the percentage of how many survived, compared with the flies that been injected only with saline.

"I didn't think the results would be so clean-cut," she said. Within two days, the second dose killed almost all of the flies that had initially received just saline solution. Those that had been vaccinated lived just as long - about one month - as a separate group that had not been infected.

To ensure it wasn't a fluke of the bacterium she chose, she tested other organisms. She identified a fungus that infects fruit flies in the wild, Beauveria bassiana, that elicited a similar protective effect. "It was really easy to show the adaptation part," she added. "Getting to the mechanism was the complicated part."

In the study, the researchers conclude that a much-studied receptor called Toll is involved, as are other processes. Pham is now teasing apart the finer aspects of how the fruit fly protects itself against S. pneumoniae.

Schneider and Pham said they hope their work encourages the search for a similar adaptive response in the innate immune systems of humans or other vertebrates. "One of the things that I thought was really cool about this work is that it might be a way to develop a vaccine that modulates the innate immune system," said Pham. "Of course, we are cautious about hoping for this."

Mitzi Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

Further reports about: Adaptation Adaptive Pham Vaccine innate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

nachricht Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals
23.05.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

One-way roads for spin currents

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple mechanism could have been decisive for the development of life

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>