Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

OHSU researchers make key immune system discovery

04.12.2002


Research may assist in the development of more effective vaccines and ability to boost immune systems of susceptible patients, such as the elderly



A key discovery about the immune system’s skill to fight off harmful disease-causing germs may lead to the ability to boost the immune systems of the elderly and otherwise susceptible, and offer more effective vaccines for the flu or AIDS, according to a study published in the November 29 issue of Science.

"This research is of particular interest to populations that are highly vulnerable to disease, such as the aging population," said Janko Nikolich-Zugich, M.D., Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Oregon Health & Science University Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, who led the research. "We are currently facing the annual flu season where seniors are at a particularly higher risk than the rest of the population. In fact, the majority of the 20,000 people who die each year because of the flu are over 65 years of age. We hope that years down the road, this research finding will help us boost the immune systems of the elderly, reducing this staggering number of deaths."


Nikolich-Zugich and colleagues uncovered this finding by working with a mouse model to study T-cells, specialized white blood cells that can fight off infection when a disease-causing pathogen is detected. Their research not only provides significant information about the workings of the body’s immune system, it also points to the ways the body efficiently gets rid of pathogens and recovers from infection.

Specifically the researchers used mice infected with the herpes simplex virus to look at the quality of the T-cell response against the virus. They concentrated on molecules that sit on the surface of infected cells and alert T-cells. These molecules are part of the major histocompatability complex (MHC) system, a key component of the body’s immune defense system.

"The MHC molecules have two roles. First, they act like the traffic cops in the body. They look for invaders and, once they find them, they call in T-cells to defeat a pathogen," explained Nikolich-Zugich. "But, just as importantly, they also ’train’ T-cells when the pathogen is not around. They do this by selecting and expanding only those T-cells that can be appropriately directed to find and destroy a pathogen when it attacks."

"Up to this point, we did not know whether both of these roles were important in combating infection. What we determined was that the ’training’ function, previously overlooked, was exquisitely important," he said.

By providing "training" to a wide, diverse set of T-cells, some MHC molecules can ensure that the pathogen will be met by the very best T-cells, able to kill the pathogen promptly at the beginning of infection. The findings showed that this can prevent pathogen-induced disease and death. Thus, the more diverse set of T-cells an animal has, the better chance the cells have of detecting a pathogen early and successfully fighting it off. The fact that as people age their T-cell diversity drops helps explain why seniors are more susceptible to the flu and other diseases than the rest of the population.

The research team chose to study herpes because it is a virus that rarely mutates and is easier for the body to spot than other viruses like HIV, which can mutate rapidly. However, by devising ways to achieve and maintain T-cell diversity, researchers hope to achieve better detection of other pathogens, including the rapidly mutating ones such as the AIDS-causing HIV, and fight them off before infection progresses to a higher level. Similarly, maintaining T-cell diversity during aging would go a long way towards reducing age-related illness and death due to infectious diseases.

OHSU is Oregon’s only academic health and science center and includes four schools, two hospitals, numerous primary care and specialty clinics, research institutes and centers, interdisciplinary centers, and community service programs. All OHSU programs integrate the core missions of teaching, healing and discovery.


Martin Munguia | OHSU
Further information:
http://www.ohsu.edu/news/112702tcells.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>