Systemic sclerosis, also called scleroderma, progressive systemic sclerosis, or CREST syndrome, is a rare autoimmune connective tissue disease with fibrosis and vasculopathy. Patients often have sclerotic, thickened skin, but some experience significant organ damage. Immunosuppressive therapy is a common approach to patients with systemic sclerosis, but there is a subset of patients that do not respond well to treatment.
Research efforts across different disciplines are beginning to uncover biological factors that underlie racial differences in health status and disease severity. One common condition with a prevalence of 7.3 percent among U.S. adults is atopic dermatitis. In terms of prevalence and disease severity, African Americans are disproportionately affected when compared to European Americans.
Dendritic cell molecules within the body’s immune system can be modified to improve our ability to combat viral and bacterial infections.
The body’s immune system is designed to protect it from invading organisms and other pathogens. However, the immune system alone may not always be able to combat viral and bacterial infections, and antimicrobial therapies are implemented. A different approach would be to manipulate or affect immune system cells to control infections. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA have discovered that immune system molecules exist that can make people more vulnerable to bacterial infections, and that modifying expression or function of these immune molecules can enhance resistance to detrimental bacterial infections.
“Kiss-and-run” approach helps researchers observe interaction between dendritic cells and T cells.
The normal biological processes needed for living beings to develop, grow, and function involve interactions between a diversity of cell types. Targeting these cellular interactions can enhance current cell-based immunotherapy and regenerative medicine, as well as provide the basis for new ones. Studying the mechanisms of these interactions is necessary in order to understand the means by which they affect cell signaling, immunity, growth and development, and more.
Advances in immunotherapy research to combat cancer has provided unprecedented treatment success due to the discoveries of two different Nobel Laureates, Dr. James P. Allison (U.S.) and Dr. Tasuku Honjo (Japan). Working independently, they each discovered immune system proteins that are important in self-tolerance and that can be harnessed to kill cancer cells. Checkpoint molecules prevent the immune system from killing the body’s own healthy cells. When checkpoint molecules are encountered by T cells, the cells bearing these molecules are spared attack. However, some cancer cells wear checkpoint molecules, acting as imposters of normal cells to evade attack by T cells.