February 20, 2002
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Nearly fifty years ago, researchers discovered that cells infected with viruses secreted a protein called interferon which could protect other cells from infections. Now scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) station in Monterotondo, Italy, have identified specific cells in the body able to launch a massive, initial round of interferon production. Their work, reported in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, is changing our understanding of the interferon system and adds a key element to our understanding of how the immune system works.
Monterotondo, Italy -- Nearly fifty years ago, researchers discovered that when cells in laboratory cultures are infected by a virus, they secrete a substance that protects other cells from infection. In 1957 Alick Issaks and Jean-Jacques Lindenmann traced this effect to a protein called interferon, a molecule now known to play a key role in the immune system. Human and animal cells produce it in a rapid “first wave” response to infections. Since its discovery, scientists have sought to use this natural substance to cure all sorts diseases, and clinical trials have demonstrated interferon’s potential to combat diseases as different as hepatitis C, blood cancers, and multiple sclerosis. Yet many aspects of interferon biology remain a mystery – including what initially prompts the body to produce it.
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European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Sounding The Alarm For Infections: EMBL Researchers Discover Rapid-Response, Interferon-Producing Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220075349.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2002, February 20). Sounding The Alarm For Infections: EMBL Researchers Discover Rapid-Response, Interferon-Producing Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 7, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220075349.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Sounding The Alarm For Infections: EMBL Researchers Discover Rapid-Response, Interferon-Producing Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220075349.htm (accessed March 7, 2014).