Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Identify Key Protein In Immune Response To Malaria And TB

Date:
April 5, 2007
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
An international team of researchers has identified a key protein involved in the immune system's response to malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and a number of other infectious diseases. The insights suggest possible new therapies to tackle these major global diseases.

An international team of researchers has identified a key protein involved in the immune system's response to malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and a number of other infectious diseases. The insights suggest possible new therapies to tackle these major global diseases.

Related Articles


Professor Luke O'Neill from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, identified the protein in 2001. The protein, known as Mal, alerts the immune system to respond against invading bacteria. Now, Professor Adrian Hill from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK, has shown that there are two variants of Mal in humans and that the combination of these variants determines how the immune system responds.

The results of the study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Health Research Board and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, are published in the April edition of Nature Genetics this week.

"Mal is in effect an alarm system for the immune system," explains Professor O'Neill. "When the body is infected with the malaria parasite or other germs, a set of sensors called 'toll-like receptors' (TLRs) lock onto the intruder. TLRs relay the detection via Mal, which wakes up the immune system to mobilise and defend us."

However, working with patients in Kenya, the Gambia, Vietnam and the UK, Professor Hill and his team showed that there are two common variants of the protein, one which allows the immune system to work normally, the other resulting in too strong a stimulation. A person will carry a combination of two copies of the protein, one from the mother and one from the father.

"If you have the overactive type, you are twice as likely to succumb to infection because your immune system goes into overdrive, often leading to severe forms of the disease, in a manner akin to 'friendly fire'," explains Professor Hill, a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow. "Similarly, if you have two copies of the less active form, the body does not fight the infection and you get the disease. The optimum situation is to have one copy of each variant, giving a balanced system, sufficient to mount a response, but not overly activating."

The researchers found that having the overactive Mal doubled the risk of disease, with a four times greater risk of severe malaria in some populations. Malaria and TB account for over five million deaths per year in the developing world, particularly amongst children.

"We hope that a drug that modulates the balance of Mal variants might prevent disease in those who are at greater risk," says Professor O'Neill. "Our next step is to work towards developing such drugs."

The research has been welcomed by Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, which funds research into diseases of the developing world such as malaria and TB, mainly through its major overseas programmes.

"Malaria and TB present a major challenge to the health of people in the developing world," says Dr Walport. "Particularly given the recent rise in the number of cases of drug-resistant strains, it is essential that we understand how the immune system responds to infection if we are to develop novel treatments."

The researchers also believe that the findings may provide a valuable insight into how dysfunctional immune systems can lead to non-infectious diseases, specifically autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Researchers Identify Key Protein In Immune Response To Malaria And TB." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326120851.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2007, April 5). Researchers Identify Key Protein In Immune Response To Malaria And TB. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326120851.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Researchers Identify Key Protein In Immune Response To Malaria And TB." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326120851.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Although she never had much interest in prosthetic limbs before, Faith Lennox couldn&apos;t wait to slip on her new robohand. The 7-year-old, who lost part of her left arm when she was a baby, grabbed it as soon as it came off a 3-D printer. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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