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New therapeutic strategies for chronic diseases

By Tim Sandle     May 27, 2013 in Science
With several chronic human diseases the immune system attacks normally beneficial bacteria in the gut, resulting in chronic inflammation and contributing to disease progression.
The chronic diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Normally the body’s immune system and the good bacteria which reside in the gut tolerate each other. However, when certain diseases occur then the ‘truce’ breaks down.
Researchers have made an important step in understanding the mechanism that keeps this balance intact. Based on animal studies, the researchers found that a certain type of body cell, called lymphoid cells (ILCs), directly limit the response by the body’s immune system (specially inflammatory T cells) towards the healthy bacteria in the gut. This response was observed in mice.
However, the loss ILCs activity (a kind of white blood cell) is key to the body turning on the good bacteria. This is an effect observed in multiple chronic inflammatory diseases.
The study provides new insight into the pathways that regulate immune responses to gut bacteria. The finding may lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for chronic diseases.
The research was led by Gregory F. Sonnenberg, PhD, research associate in the Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology Division, and the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, with postdoctoral researcher Matthew Hepworth, PhD. The findings have been published in the science journal Nature.
More about Chronic disease, Gut bacteria, Therapy, Stomach
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