Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Identify Immune System Trigger For Fighting Lyme Disease

Date:
August 23, 2006
Source:
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Summary:
Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) has announced an important finding on Lyme disease that could eventually lead to the development of a new vaccine to prevent this tick-borne disorder. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and sometimes skin rashes. If left untreated, it can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system and can lead to serious health problems.

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) has announced an important finding on Lyme disease that could eventually lead to the development of a new vaccine to prevent this tick-borne disorder. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes skin rashes. If left untreated, it can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system and can lead to serious health problems.

LIAI scientist Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., and an international team of scientists, have identified that Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, contains a glycolipid which triggers an immune response from the body's natural killer (NK) T cells, a type of white blood cell. The finding is particularly exciting because it is one of the few glycolipids found to naturally induce an immune response from the body's NK T cells, which are prized for their ability to initiate a fast and vigorous attack against infection. Scientists are hopeful that this glycolipid can be used to create a vaccine against Lyme disease.

The finding was published today in the online version of the scientific journal Nature Immunology in a paper entitled, "Natural killer T cells recognize diacylglycerol antigens from pathogenic bacteria."

This was the second major finding on NK T cells published in the last year by Kronenberg and his team. In a June 2005 scientific paper in Nature, Kronenberg and colleagues identified a bacteria, Sphingomonas, as containing a glycolipid which also triggers an NK T cell response. Now that a total of three substances have been found to naturally activate the NK T cells, "it opens up the idea that we should be looking at many different types of bacteria that may be able to activate these cells," Kronenberg said.

Most white blood cells respond to foreign proteins to protect the body, but NK T cells are unique in that they respond to glycolipids, which are natural biochemicals made of linked fat and sugar. Prior to Kronenberg's findings, only one compound, developed by the Kirin Pharmaceutical Research company in the1990s, was known to activate the NK T cells. In a surprising twist, that compound was initially discovered in marine sponges. The compound was found to have anti-tumor activity and is currently in clinical trials for several tumor types. Because the NK T cells are known to be responsible for the tumor fighting mechanism induced by the marine sponge compound, and because their mechanism of action has been so mysterious, the NK T cells have generated increased research interest over the last several years.

In particular, scientists wanted to know what substance would naturally activate the NK T cells. "Although the synthetic compound was useful for many studies, we wanted to know what substance would normally cause the NK T cells to produce an immune response, and it was not believable that marine sponges normally stimulate our immune system," said Kronenberg, who is also LIAI's President and Scientific Director.

After identifying the Sphingomonas bacteria last year as an NK T cell activator, Kronenberg strongly suspected that other bacteria might also activate these cells, which led to the discovery of the Borrelia burgdorferi antigen. He believes many other types of bacteria may also produce an immune response from NK T cells. "This is an exciting possibility that needs to be further explored as it could lead to the development of vaccines or treatments for many bacteria caused diseases," he said.

Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute, Rockefeller University, the National Institutes of Health, Albany Medical College, Harvard Medical School, and Industrial Research Ltd of New Zealand also participated in the study.

About LIAI
Founded in 1988, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology is a nonprofit medical research center dedicated to increasing knowledge and improving human health through studies of the immune system. Scientists at the institute carry out research searching for cures for cancer, allergy and asthma, infectious diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. LIAI's research staff includes more than 100 Ph.Ds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Scientists Identify Immune System Trigger For Fighting Lyme Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822150046.htm>.
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. (2006, August 23). Scientists Identify Immune System Trigger For Fighting Lyme Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822150046.htm
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Scientists Identify Immune System Trigger For Fighting Lyme Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822150046.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. 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