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Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD


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Healthy Microbiomes May Boost Activity of Killer Immune Cells

Oct 1, 2019 10:10:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Cytotoxic T Cells, T Cells

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Researchers at the University of Melbourne are studying how to boost the body’s immune system to help fight off certain cancers through a healthy microbiome.

The microbiome, the collective group or community of microorganisms that have a tight connection and relationship with the rest of our bodies, is essential for our healthy existence. The most studied microbiome is that of the intestines, and it is now known to play a crucial role in more than digestion. There is a critical balance between types of microbes (bacterial, fungi, viruses) that influences the body’s biochemistry, such as cholesterol levels, blood glucose, and even brain function.

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Is an Unusual Immune Cell the Cause of Type I Diabetes?

Sep 24, 2019 10:20:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Autoimmune Disorders, T Cells

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center discovered unique autoimmune cells in type 1 diabetes.

Over 30 million people living in the United States are affected by diabetes, and 5% of those have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder whereby the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s own immune system. This leads to a lack of sufficient insulin needed to assist the entry of glucose into cells, causing hyperglycemia. The mechanism of this aspect is mainly unknown. However, it is held that insulin is the target of the autoimmune attack that leads to type 1 diabetes.

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Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer on the Horizon

Sep 17, 2019 10:02:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Cancer, Tumors, Immunotherapy (Immunology)

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A new treatment has been approved by the FDA to treat breast cancer that combines chemotherapy with immunotherapy.

The war against cancer is ongoing and consists of both winning and losing battles. There are several cancers that have been successfully treated with immunotherapy. However, one type of cancer has been a challenge for the application of immunotherapy is breast cancer. There are various subtypes of breast cancer, and each requires a different treatment approach due to the distinct biology associated with these cancer types and the specific mechanisms involved in breast tumor development.

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NK Cells May Form Adaptive Memories

Sep 10, 2019 10:10:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in NK Cells, Vaccine Research, Humanized Mice

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A new study shows that NK cells may be able to form adaptive memory and demonstrate specific antigen memory.

Innate immunity has long been considered the nonspecific first line of defense against an invading microorganism, while adaptive (or acquired) immunity is an antigen-specific immune response characterized by a memory that allows protection against a repeat exposure. Examples of cells of the innate immune response include natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and mast cells. T and B lymphocytes are cells of the adaptive immune system.

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The Role of Lymph Node Cells in Immune Tolerance

Sep 3, 2019 10:10:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD posted in Autoimmune Disorders, T Cells

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A recent study found the lymph node cells, much like the thymus, play a part in immune self-tolerance.

Nearly 5% of the U.S. population is affected with a devastating autoimmune disease, and this percentage is ever growing. Current treatments address organ inflammation or approach the autoimmunity with immunosuppression, which has serious and widespread side effects. In order to develop more specific and effective therapies, there must be a fuller understanding of the mechanisms by which self-tolerance develops. It is known that autoimmune diseases occur due to the immune system’s loss of tolerance to self-antigens. How and why this loss of tolerance occurs is associated with many factors, including genetic (and epigenetic), cellular, environmental, and more.

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