Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover New Way To Fight Autoimmune Diseases

Date:
March 9, 2007
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis are among a variety of autoimmune diseases that are aggravated when one type of white blood cell, called the immune regulatory cell, malfunctions. In humans, one cause of this malfunction is when a mutation in a gene called FOXP3 disables the immune cells' ability to function. Penn researchers have discovered how to modify enzymes that act on the FOXP3 protein, in turn making the regulatory immune cells work better.

Human regulatory T cells viewed using fluorescence microscopy after immunostaining (left). FOXP3 protein stained by anti-FOXP3 antibody within one regulatory T cell (right).
Credit: Kathryn T. Iacono, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis are among a variety of autoimmune diseases that are aggravated when one type of white blood cell, called the immune regulatory cell, malfunctions.

In humans, one cause of this malfunction is when a mutation in a gene called FOXP3 disables the immune cells’ ability to function. In a new study published online next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how to modify enzymes that act on the FOXP3 protein, in turn making the regulatory immune cells work better. These findings have important implications for treating autoimmune-related diseases.

“We have uncovered a mechanism by which drugs could be developed to stabilize immune regulatory cells in order to fight autoimmune diseases,” says senior author Mark Greene, MD, PhD, the John Eckman Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “There’s been little understanding about how the FOXP3 protein actually works.” First author Bin Li, PhD, a research associate in the Greene lab has been working on elucidating this process since FOXP3’s discovery almost five years ago.

Li discovered that the FOXP3 protein works via a complex set of enzymes. One set of those enzymes are called histone deacetylases, or HDACs. These enzymes are linked to the FOXP3 protein in association with another set of enzymes called histone acetyl transferases that modify the FOXP3 proteins.

Li found that when the histone acetyl transferases are turned on, or when the histone deacetylases are turned off, the immune regulatory cells work better and longer. As a consequence of the action of the acetylating enzyme, the FOXP3 protein functions to turn off pathways that would lead to autoimmune diseases.

“I think this simple approach will revolutionize the treatment of autoimmune diseases in humans because we have a new set of enzymatic drug targets as opposed to the non-specific therapies we now use,” says Greene. Non-specific therapies include the use of steroids and certain chemotherapy-like drugs that act on many cell types and have significant side effects.

“Before this work FOXP3 was thought essential for regulatory T-cell function, but how FOXP3 worked was not known,” says Li. “Our research identifies a critical mechanism. Based on this mechanism, treatments could be developed to modulate this regulatory cell population.”

“In this line of investigation, we have learned how to turn on or off this regulatory immune cell population – which is normally needed to prevent autoimmune diseases – using drugs that are approved for other purposes, but work on these enzymes” notes co-author Sandra Saouaf, PhD, a research associate at Penn.

Li, Greene, Saouaf and Penn colleagues Wayne Hancock and Youhai Chen are now extending this research directly to several mouse models of autoimmune diseases.

Additional co-authors are Arabinda Samanta, Xiaomin Song, Kathryn T. Iacono, Kathryn Bembas, Ran Tao, Samik Basu, and James Riley, all from Penn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Researchers Discover New Way To Fight Autoimmune Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075532.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2007, March 9). Researchers Discover New Way To Fight Autoimmune Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075532.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Researchers Discover New Way To Fight Autoimmune Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070307075532.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, July 26, 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