Cell receptors designed to make our immune system stronger

June 3rd, 2009 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 3 (IANS) Cell or ‘death’ receptors used by the body to shut down old, diseased or otherwise unwanted cells may also be used to make cells heartier when facing a wide range of illnesses from liver disease to cancer.
“Increasing our knowledge of how death (cell) receptors function will allow us to develop better and more effective therapies for several human diseases,” said Gregory J. Gores, study author at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Gores and his colleague, Maria Guicciardi described the various molecular pathways activated by death receptors and the proteins involved in the process.

Specifically, they looked at how these proteins interact with each other and how they redistribute within a cell.

Death receptors are an essential tool for the immune system to eliminate cells (apoptosis) that have been overtaken by viruses, undergone potentially harmful genetic modifications, or have become too old to function properly.

Understanding the exact sequence of events that occurs after death receptors are activated, including identifying key proteins involved in the processes, may allow researchers to develop entirely new therapeutics, said a Mayo release.

These therapeutics not only would give doctors the ability to choose when and if certain cells are taken out of service, but they would also give doctors the ability to trigger cells to shift into “survival mode.”

These findings have been published in the June issue of The FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology).

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