Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., found that the same molecules used in drugs that treat diabetes also stimulate B cells in the immune system, pushing them to make antibodies for protection against invading microorganisms.
The University of Rochester Medical Center has applied for international patent protection for this discovery.
Phipps believes further research will show that low doses of insulin-sensitizing drugs might be useful as vaccine adjuvants, particularly for people with weakened immune systems who cannot produce a proper antibody response. This would include some infants, the elderly, and patients with chronic health problems that lower immunity.
Currently the only widely approved vaccine adjuvant in the United States is alum. A vaccine adjuvant is a substance added to a vaccine to improve the body’s immune response. Various forms of aluminum salts have been used for 70 years. (Adjuvants are added to some vaccines but not all. For example, live viral vaccines given during childhood and seasonal flu vaccines do not contain adjuvants.)
“The search is always on for new adjuvants and safe adjuvants,” said Phipps, a Dean’s professor of Environmental Medicine and professor of Medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Microbology and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “We are excited that we’ve identified a potentially important new and effective adjuvant.”
Phipps’ discovery grew from years of NIH-funded research investigating a protein called PPAR gamma and its ligands, which are present inside B cells and are involved in inflammation and in regulating the properties of immune cells and cancer cells. The way B cells evolve, or differentiate, is central to the body’s immune response.
A closer examination of the role of PPAR gamma in relation to B cell function showed that PPAR levels increase upon B cell activation, according to a study published in 2009 by Phipps’ laboratory in the Journal of Immunology.
Thus, researchers theorized that any molecule that binds to and activates PPAR gamma would, in turn, improve B cell secretion of antibodies. Researchers tested both natural and synthetic PPAR gamma ligands and discovered that the synthetic molecules used to create anti-diabetic drugs such as Actos and Avandia stimulated human and mouse B cells to better produce antibodies.
The drawback, Phipps said, is the possibility that too much stimulation would cause the immune system to overreact, triggering autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Additional research is needed to better understand this process.
The research was funded in part by U.S. Public Health Service grants. Phipps reported he had no financial conflicts of interest. Co-investigator was Tatiana Margarita Garcia-Bates, Ph.D., a graduate student in the Phipps laboratory. She is currently completing post-doctoral work at the University of Pittsburgh.For Media Inquiries:
Leslie Orr | EurekAlert!
Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy