Natural Killer (or NK) cells are abundant white blood cells that were recognised over 30 years ago as being able to kill cancer cells in the test tube. Since that time, a role for NK cells in activating other white blood cells (including ‘T’ lymphocytes and phagocytes) and in directing how the immune system responds to a wide range of infections has also been established.
Because of these properties, NK have been widely regarded as being of benefit in the fight against cancer and infection, and methods to increase NK cell activity underpin a range of new experimental anti-cancer drugs and anti-infectives.
However, a research team in the University’s Centre for Immunology and Infection and led by Professor Paul Kaye, has now demonstrated that NK cells also make chemicals that inhibit immune responses.
The research, published in the latest issue of the journal Immunity, has shown that in an experimental model of the tropical disease visceral leishmaniasis, too many NK cells can actually make the disease worse. They have identified that NK cells produce a chemical called interleukin-10 that can counteract many of the otherwise beneficial effects of these cells.
Professor Kaye said: “Other researchers have suggested in the past that NK cells might not always be good for you, but we now have the first direct evidence that this can actually be the case. Although we have worked on an infectious disease, the same is likely to be true for NK cells in cancer. So, in practical terms, it means that we need to consider more carefully exactly how we use therapies that affect NK cells, to maximize their beneficial role.”
The new findings also open up the potential of developing new drugs that specifically target the beneficial properties of NK cells, and which leave their inhibitory properties switched off. Conversely, in autoimmune diseases, where the immune system is too active, it may be possible to stimulate NK cells to turn it off.
David Garner | alfa
The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona
Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
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...
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...
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...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research