New hope for HIV, blood cancer patients

January 14th, 2009 - 11:31 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 14 (IANS) A Canadian scientist has discovered a mechanism that stops regeneration of white blood cells that play a vital role in keeping up the body’s immune system.But these white blood cells - called CD4+T lymphocytes in medical parlance - are destroyed massively during chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant required for patients suffering from leukaemia or blood cancers. The destruction of white cells leads to weakening of the immune system, leaving patients vulnerable to various infections.

Immunity can then take many years to regenerate. But Marten Guimond of the University of Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital has identified the mechanism that stops the regeneration of these white cells, giving fresh hope to patients whose immune system is weakened after undergoing intensive chemotherapy, receiving bone marrow transplants, or getting infected with HIV.

In a release, the university said Guimond’s study has identified a negative regulation loop that restricts the ability of white cells to divide.

“By acting on this regulation loop, we can create a homeostatic production of CD4+ T lymphocytes (white cells) that will allow the immune system to regenerate,” the statement quoted Guimond as saying.

The study of the associate researcher in the University of Montreal’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology was published in the prestigious journal Nature Immunology Tuesday.

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