Scientists have discovered a new way to treat autoimmune diseases and to stimulate the body to fight the cancer. The method uses a previously unknown medicinal way to manipulate immune cells.
The opening is connected with a molecule called four (BH4), which is well known to those who study the biology of the brain and nervous system. However, new studies show that BH4 plays a previously unknown role – it helps to control the growth of T-cells in the immune system. T-cells are white blood cells that find and attack a potentially harmful pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and cells-outcasts, including those that can cause cancer.
The leaders of the study were made by scientists from the Institute of molecular biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) in Vienna and Boston children’s hospital Massachusetts. The journal Nature recently published the results of research with comments of a senior researcher IMBA Joseph Penninger:
One of the amazing features of our discovery is that the system that is studied in neuroscience for decades, maybe ignaticheva role in the biology of T cells. The study links two completely different systems of our body.
What is particularly interesting, he adds, scientists have discovered ways to control the growth of T-cells and not just activate them.
Cancer and autoimmunity
This discovery should lead to a wide range of medical applications, ranging from control of autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies until the new launch method of anticancer immunity.
The use of self healing mechanisms of the body to fight diseases – is one of the most popular areas of medical research. Two scientists won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2018 after developing the approach to cancer treatment that stimulates the immune system’s inherent ability to destroy tumor cells.
These discoveries are revolutionary in the treatment of cancer, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide and has a significant impact on society. According to the National cancer Institute, by the end of 2018 1735350 will be diagnosed with new cases of cancer, resulting in die 609 640 people in the United States.
Other diseases can also occur due to excessive activity or malfunction of the immune system. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that arise due to the fact that the immune system attacks healthy tissue as a threat. Common autoimmune diseases include inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the 2005 report of the National Institute of health (NIH), up to 23.5 million people in the U.S. have an autoimmune disease, but the number continues to grow. American Association for the suppression of autoimmune diseases, however, said that the data include only 24 NIH autoimmune diseases, so the actual figure is likely to be around 50 million.
The body uses BH4 to the production of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that transmit signals from cells in the brain and nervous system. The authors of a new study have shown that the molecule is also crucial in the biology of T cells. They demonstrated that the decrease in the production of BH4 cells greatly limits the proliferation of T-cells in human tissues and in adult mice. It turns out that T-cells need BH4 to control the level of iron and energy production. This is consistent with the results of long-term studies that associate iron deficiency with immune system problems.
Conducting research on mice with cancer, the researchers found that the increase in BH4 causes an increase in the number of T-cells and reduce tumors. It seems that BH4 does it, overcoming molecule, called kynurenine, which normally suppresses the growth of T-cells in tumors.
Senior author Clifford Woolf, Director of the Kirby neurobiology Center at Boston children’s hospital adds:
The molecule recognized as important for many functions in neurobiology, now is the key to absolutely new methods of treatment. When the amount of BH4 in the body decreases, we block the proliferation of T-cells in autoimmune diseases or asthma. When the number increases, we program the growth of T cells and force them to attack tumor cells, even in adverse conditions .
Researchers have tested some blockers BH4 in mice with allergic and autoimmune diseases. The drugs calmed autoaggressive T cells, stopping allergic inflammation and did not allow T-cells to cause autoimmune attack in the gut and the brain. In the near future they hope to test the drug on humans.
The main feature of the approach is that instead of targeting a single cytokine or a class of T-cells, stop the proliferation of all disease-related T cells, and this can lead to positive activity in a variety of clinical conditions.