Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

International Team Accelerates Investigation Of Immune-Related Genes

Date:
September 11, 2000
Source:
National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases
Summary:
NIH is heading an initiative to catalog the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene complex and explore its differences among populations worldwide. Nearly $20 million over five years will go to the International Histocompatibility Working Group, a network of almost 200 labs in more than 70 countries, to study the gene complex and set up a centralized HLA gene database.

A cluster of nearly 220 genes known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene complex holds clues to many unsolved medical questions: why do transplants sometimes fail despite close donor-recipient matches? What makes certain people more susceptible to specific diseases? Why do vaccines protect some individuals better than others?

In search of the answers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is heading an initiative to catalog the HLA gene complex and explore its differences among populations worldwide. Nearly $20 million over five years will go to the International Histocompatibility Working Group (IHWG), a network of almost 200 laboratories in more than 70 countries, to set up a centralized HLA gene database and develop new and improved tools to decipher this genetic Rosetta Stone of immunology.

"The HLA gene complex comprises the most diverse and variable region in the human genome," explains Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is the project's lead sponsor. "Knowledge about its diversity and how these genes direct immune responses could improve our ability to predict, diagnose and treat immune-mediated disorders and infectious diseases."

John A. Hansen, M.D., at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, will head the project. According to Dr. Hansen, head of FHCRC's Human Immunogenetics Program and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, the project could have immediate clinical benefits, for example, for finding better matches for bone marrow transplant recipients.

"But the potential impact of these new studies goes way beyond immunogenetics," says Dr. Hansen. "This project will apply recent advances in genome technology to important questions about specific diseases and help explain how the rich genetic differences in HLA among individuals can either strengthen the immune response or open the door to autoimmune disease and infection."

The HLA gene complex, known more generally as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), is responsible for encoding proteins that stud the surface of the body's cells, marking them as our own. Anything not marked as "self" can come under attack from the immune system. This includes foreign matter such as viruses and bacteria as well as cancerous cells and transplanted tissue. Even organs from a close blood relative can display very different HLA markers due to the underlying distinctions within each individual's HLA gene complex; a perfect HLA-type match exists only between identical twins.

The effectiveness of a person's immune defenses for detecting and destroying trespasser antigens depends largely on his or her HLA gene complex. Similarly, these genes are suspected of playing a role when the immune system mistakenly targets the body's own cells as foreign, which is the case with autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. The IHWG will accelerate investigations seeking to discover the fundamental mechanics of how HLA genes direct beneficial and harmful immune responses.

"The IHWG represents more than 30 years of collaborative research among the world's leading scientists in population-based genetics," says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. "Its extensive international network of laboratories will contribute significantly to NIAID's efforts to address the global health problems caused by infectious and immune-mediated diseases."

A primary goal of the IHWG is to create a searchable HLA database linking multiple interacting genes with function, ethnicity and disease. A more centralized database will make it easier for scientists to find and contribute new data. It also will help clinical investigators use the information as a platform for future research on immune-mediated diseases.

Other IHWG objectives include the following:

**finding more accurate DNA-based techniques to replace current methods for identifying organ donor matches for transplantation;

**stimulating vaccine development by defining candidate vaccine targets in diverse populations;

**clarifying the role of HLA genes in susceptibility and resistance to autoimmune diseases;

**developing standardized molecular tools to explore the genetic diversity of the HLA gene complex.

Knowledge about the patterns of HLA gene combinations prevalent in different ethnic groups also could illuminate the historical relationships among the world's subpopulations. Theoretically, someday scientists could custom-build vaccines based on HLA genes. Such vaccines could provide better protection against diseases endemic to a group or geographic area, such as malaria and the varying subtypes of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) appearing in different parts of the world.

Participating with NIAID in funding the cooperative agreement with the IHWG are several other NIH sponsors, including the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine. Another sponsor is the nonprofit Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International.

For details about IHWG research plans and workshop meetings, visit http://www.ihwg.org.

NIAID is a component of the NIH. NIAID conducts and supports research to understand basic immunology and to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases and immune-mediated disorders, including HIV disease and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

###

Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. "International Team Accelerates Investigation Of Immune-Related Genes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000906121702.htm>.
National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. (2000, September 11). International Team Accelerates Investigation Of Immune-Related Genes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000906121702.htm
National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. "International Team Accelerates Investigation Of Immune-Related Genes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000906121702.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) — A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) — The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins