Key cell signals inhibit babies’ ability to fight infection

August 8th, 2012 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 8 (IANS) Infants are prone to sickness due to under-developed immune systems, but it may be possible to activate crucial cells to help them fight off diseases from an earlier age, say scientists.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System suggest the natural ability to fight infection is there early on - but key cell signals inhibit the growth of essential immune cells early in life, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Blocking this signalling could lead to improving an infant’s response to infection, according to the study published in Nature Immunity.

Study author Yasmina Laouar said: “What happens at early age is that natural killer cells, like many other immune cells, do not complete their functional maturation until adulthood.”

“During this time we are left with an immature immune system that cannot protect us against infections, the reason why newborns and infants are more prone to infection.”

There is a large gap in understanding infant immunity, specifically why the natural killer cell responses are deficient, according to the researchers.

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