A boost of antibody kicks lingering infection

Feb 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have found that an antibody, which stimulates the immune system, can be used to improve health outcomes in the developing world.

Using mice as a model, researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) have developed a more effective treatment against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) - a chronic disease which is responsible for over 40,000 deaths per year in countries such including China, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

“Currently, there is no vaccine against VL, and the only treatment is a long course of toxic drugs, against which the parasite may become resistant,” said Dr Ashraful Haque from QIMR. “These drugs often have severe, even life-threatening side-effects."

“The body’s immune system tries to fight VL however for various reasons it is unable to eliminate the infection. Treatment with this specific antibody stimulates the production of specific immune cells known as CD4+ effector T cells. This boosts the immune response which helps clear the parasite.”

The antibody, called glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor (GITR), activates CD4+ T-cells and stimulates them to proliferate, while leaving Treg-cells or CD8+ T-cells unaffected.

“By increasing the natural , we can reduce the drug dose or shorten the time that patients had to take the toxic cocktail.”

The most exciting thing about this research is it may be applicable to many other chronic as well, such as tuberculosis.

“A human version of this antibody already exists, and is being tested by pharmaceutical companies for its potential to treat cancer. Hopefully our research will further advocate its use to reduce the suffering of VL patients in some of the poorest communities in the world.”

“Our next aim is to trial this antibody in human tissue culture, to see whether the GITR antibody will clear the VL infection in human tissues.”

The paper is published in the and is available online.

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a chronic disease caused by Leishmania infantum or Leishmania donovani, and causes fever, anaemia, and swelling of the liver and spleen. It is transmitted by sandflies and occurs in tropical and subtropical climates. Most infections occur in China, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Brazil and Sudan. VL is estimated to affect 500,000 people yearly and killing 40,000.

Explore further: Mutant protein in muscle linked to neuromuscular disorder

More information: dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.0903080

Provided by Queensland Institute of Medical Research

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New insight in the fight against the Leishmania parasite

Oct 23, 2009

Professor Albert Descoteaux's team at Centre INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier, Canada, has gained a better understanding of how the Leishmania donovani parasite manages to outsmart the human immune system and proliferate with i ...

Antibody gives cancer the recognition it deserves

Apr 22, 2009

In concept, the human immune system has the power to destroy cancer cells with great specificity. Therefore, cancer vaccines, like vaccines against influenza or other diseases, offer the hope of enticing the immune system ...

Major discovery opens door to leishmania treatment

Oct 06, 2009

Leishmania is a deadly parasitic disease that affects over 12 million people worldwide, with more than 2 million new cases reported every year. Until recently, scientists were unsure exactly how the parasite survives inside ...

Recommended for you

Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

2 hours ago

Stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue, according to a new study from the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry ...

Bionic ankle 'emulates nature'

7 hours ago

These days, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, gets about 100 emails daily from people across the world interested in his bionic limbs.

Firm targets 3D printing synthetic tissues, organs

8 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—A University of Oxford spin-out, OxSyBio, will develop 3D printing techniques to produce tissue-like synthetic materials for wound healing and drug delivery. In the longer term the company ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease?

The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the ...