Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers Team Discovers Novel Approach to Stimulate Immune Cells

14.05.2012
Research builds towards potential treatment for immune diseases and cancer

Researchers at Rutgers University have uncovered a new way to stimulate activity of immune cell opiate receptors, leading to efficient tumor cell clearance.

Dipak Sarkar, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and his research team have been able to take a new pharmacological approach to activate the immune cells to prevent cancer growth through stimulation of the opiate receptors found on immune cells.

This research, funded by the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholosm, is featured on the cover of the May 11 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It describes two structurally different but functionally similar opioid receptors, Mu- and Delta-opioid receptors. These receptors form protein complexes as either two structurally similar receptors as a homodimer—formed by two identical molecules—or two structurally dissimilar protein complexes as a heterodimer—formed by ethanol inducement—in immune cells. The team pharmacologically fooled these two structurally different but functionally similar opioid receptors to form more homodimers so that opioid peptide increases the immune cells’ ability to kill tumor cells.

“The potential for this research can lead to production of endogenous opioids in the brain and the periphery becoming more effective in regulating stress and immune function,” says Sarkar.

Opioids, like endorphins, communicate with the immune system, so when there is a deficit of endorphin – due to fetal alcohol exposure, alcoholism and drug abuse, anxiety, depression and chronic psychological stress – the body undergoes stress shocks and, as Sarkar suggests, causes “immune incompetence.”

“Opioids act as the regulator of body stress mechanism, so when endorphins are low, body stress indicators are high,” says Sarkar, who directs the Endocrine Research Program at Rutgers and is a faculty member of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.

“What’s new about this latest research is that when we combine the Mu receptor blocker (antagonist) with the Delta receptor stimulator (agonist), the immune cells accrue increased foreign cell-killing ability,” explains Sarkar. “This makes the body highly effective in fighting against bacterial infection and tumor growth.”

Sarkar believes that combining this opioid antagonist and agonist may have potential therapeutic value in humans for the treatment of immune incompetence, cancer, pain and ethanol-dependent diseases.

Previous research by the Sarkar group showed that replenishing endorphins by cell therapy did prevent many of the stress and immune problems in fetal alcohol-exposed test subjects. However, cell therapy is highly complex, involving the cumbersome process of producing endorphin cells from neural stem cells of patients and can sometimes result in rejection and other issues.

The beginning of the team’s interest into how stress causes diseases started with the observation that mothers who suffer from alcohol abuse or with other developmental problems often give birth to children who exhibited hype-stress responses, linked to childhood disease, child abnormality, immune diseases and cancer.

As part of their investigation, the Sarkar research team learned that the endogenous opioid system in the brain is abnormal in kids and adults who demonstrate hyper-stress responses.

“With the link between hyper-stress responses and manifested immune issues, the goal has been to replenish the opioid deficit in the brain and lead to an effective therapy for immune and other diseases,” explained Sarkar.

The team also found that when people consume alcohol, the effectiveness of the body’s ability to defend against viral and bacterial invasion, and fight against cancer decreases.

“The overall goal of our research program is to increase our understanding of and develop new therapy for the treatment of cancer, immune and other alcoholism-induced diseases,” says Sarkar.

They hope that the promise of their novel pharmacological approach that modifies the activity of the opioid receptors of immune cells brings them one step closer in the long road to therapeutic advances.
Media Contact: Paula Walcott-Quintin
848-932-4204
E-mail: quintin@aesop.rutgers.edu

Paula Walcott-Quintin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

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

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>