Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers on the trail of a treatment for cancer of the immune system

Date:
August 22, 2011
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Danish researchers have become the first in the world to regulate a special receptor or bio-antenna that plays a vital part when the Epstein Barr herpes virus infects us and when this infection appears to be mutating into cancer of the immune system. Using a biochemical blueprint and a tiny bio-molecule researchers have succeeded in blocking the receptor concerned. This will make it possible to adjust and regulate the memory cells of the immune system.

Infection with Epstein Barr means that the B cells, which are the primary memory cells of the immune system, are hi-jacked.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Copenhagen

Danish researchers from the University of Copenhagen have become the first in the world to regulate a special receptor or bio-antenna that plays a vital part when the Epstein Barr herpes virus infects us and when this infection appears to be mutating into cancer of the immune system. Using a biochemical blueprint and a tiny bio-molecule the Danish researchers have succeeded in blocking the receptor concerned. This will make it possible to adjust and regulate the memory cells of the immune system.

Related Articles


Infection with Epstein Barr means that the B cells, which are the primary memory cells of the immune system, are hi-jacked.

When the virus has penetrated, researchers observe an excess of a special bio-antenna, a receptor known as EB12, suddenly sprouting from the surface of the B cells. But why they do so remains a mystery.

The receptors are a vital component of the way cells communicate with their surroundings via hormones and other bio-molecules, for example, but in a body consisting of millions of cells and transmitters it can be hard to determine the part each molecule plays.

"It is possible that the large numbers of EB12 receptors could actually be the B cells response to the virus and an attempt to combat the infection. Another possibility is that the EB virus reprogrammes the cell for this explosive growth in the number of EB12 receptors. What we know for certain is that more EB12 receptors assist the B cell infected by the EB virus to multiply more rapidly thus spreading the infection faster," says postdoc Tau Benned-Jensen from the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The Epstein Barr virus can cause cancer

No fewer than 95 per cent of us carry the Epstein Barr Herpes virus.

We often encounter it as kids and it is normally harmless. Are we infected later in life EB virus may cause mononucleosis, and it seems to play a part in some forms of cancer, just as HPV affects the risk of cervical cancer. But we have no drugs to combat the Epstein Barr virus, and no vaccines for it.

"Under normal circumstances our immune systems can keep the EB virus infection in a latent state and a truce or stand-off may arise between the immune system and the virus," explains Mette Rosenkilde, professor of pharmacology at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen.

"We cannot dispense with the infection and we carry it all life long, but to most of us it is harmless. For people whose immune systems do not function due to disease or because they are suppressed by drugs in conjunction with organ transplants it is a very different matter. Now the Epstein Barr virus is suddenly free to reproduce so uninhibitedly and dramatically that it may lead to cancer," says Mette Rosenkilde.

The first step on the road to solving the EB12-puzzle

While researchers know that the B cell EB12 receptors play a part when the cell visits the lymph glands, the immune system's Central Station, we have not yet explained the exact role of the receptor.

So the Danish researchers started by mapping the bio-antenna molecule by molecule and then, as the first in the world, they made a blueprint of a tiny molecule they thought could bind to the B cell EB12 receptor.

"When we know what receptors react to, it tells us more about the part they play," Mette Rosenkilde explains, "and our tiny molecule, a ligand, blocks the EB12 receptor, preventing it from doing its job."

"In time this block may be able to help transplant patients. If we can restrain EB virus reproduction when the immune system is being medically suppressed, we may well be able to avoid cancer," Tau Benned-Jensen says.

"On the other hand the EP virus also appears to play a part in other immune diseases such as autoimmune disease, where the ability to adjust the immune system would be beneficial," says Mette Rosenkilde.

And shortly after the Danish researchers published their article on their ligand, the first articles appeared about natural substances in the body, which activate the EB12 receptor and direct the B cell to specific areas in the lymph glands.

"Our molecule can inhibit the activation of the new substances, and the next step in our research will be experiments to identify even more biochemical dials to twiddle and to help us develop new drugs," Tau-Benned says.

The discovery has just been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Benned-Jensen, C. Smethurst, P. J. Holst, K. R. Page, H. Sauls, B. Sivertsen, T. W. Schwartz, A. Blanchard, R. Jepras, M. M. Rosenkilde. Ligand Modulation of the Epstein-Barr Virus-induced Seven-transmembrane Receptor EBI2: IDENTIFICATION OF A POTENT AND EFFICACIOUS INVERSE AGONIST. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; 286 (33): 29292 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.196345

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Researchers on the trail of a treatment for cancer of the immune system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110819131510.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2011, August 22). Researchers on the trail of a treatment for cancer of the immune system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110819131510.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Researchers on the trail of a treatment for cancer of the immune system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110819131510.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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:

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