Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New strategies for treatment of infectious diseases

Date:
February 24, 2012
Source:
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)
Summary:
The immune system protects from infections by detecting and eliminating invading pathogens. These two strategies form the basis of conventional clinical approaches in the fight against infectious diseases. Scientists now propose that a third strategy needs to be considered: tolerance to infection, whereby the infected host protects itself from infection by reducing tissue damage and other negative effects caused by the pathogen or the immune response against the invader.

The immune system protects from infections by detecting and eliminating invading pathogens. These two strategies form the basis of conventional clinical approaches in the fight against infectious diseases. In the latest issue of the journal Science, Miguel Soares from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Portugal) together with Ruslan Medzhitov from Yale University School of Medicine and David Schneider from Stanford University propose that a third strategy needs to be considered: tolerance to infection, whereby the infected host protects itself from infection by reducing tissue damage and other negative effects caused by the pathogen or the immune response against the invader.

The authors argue that identifying the mechanisms underlying this largely overlooked phenomenon may pave the way to new strategies to treat many human infectious diseases. Upon invasion by pathogens (bacteria, viruses or parasites), the immune system kicks into action, by detecting, destroying and ultimately eliminating the pathogen. This so-called "resistance to infection" is crucial in protecting the host from infection, but is often accompanied by collateral damage to some of the host's vital tissues (liver, kidney, heart, brain). If uncontrolled tissue damage may have lethal consequences, as often happens, for example, in severe malaria, severe sepsis and possibly other infectious diseases.

Tolerance reduces the harmful impact of infection and of the ensuing immune response on the host. Although a well-studied phenomenon in plant immunity, tolerance to infection has been largely overlooked in mammals, including humans. While there is still much to be learnt about how and under which circumstances tolerance to infection is employed by the host, most of what is currently known about the molecular mechanisms underlying this host defense strategy comes from work carried out at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência by the group led by Miguel Soares.

The team is particularly interested in identifying disease-specific tolerance mechanisms, on the one hand, and also general strategies of tolerance, that may, possibly, be employed protectively, to precondition the host to future infections. Because resistance is, generally, the only mechanism considered in animal and human studies, when the host capitulates to infection it is often attributed to failure of the immune system.

The authors argue that this is not always the case, and underscore the importance of distinguishing between failed resistance and failed tolerance as the cause for morbidity and mortality by infectious diseases. This distinction will dictate the choice of therapeutic approaches. When the primary problem is failed tolerance, then boosting the immune system, or administering antibiotics, may be ineffective. In this case, enhancing tolerance would possibly be much more effective in fighting infectious, inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Medzhitov, D. S. Schneider, M. P. Soares. Disease Tolerance as a Defense Strategy. Science, 2012; 335 (6071): 936 DOI: 10.1126/science.1214935

Cite This Page:

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). "New strategies for treatment of infectious diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224110555.htm>.
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). (2012, February 24). New strategies for treatment of infectious diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224110555.htm
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC). "New strategies for treatment of infectious diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224110555.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. 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