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Profound immune system discovery opens door to halting destruction of lupus
Date:12/13/2007

(New York, NY) A researcher funded by the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) has discovered an entirely new and powerful molecular switch that controls the inflammatory response of the immune system. The major finding, reported in the December 14th issue of the journal Cell, means that new methods can now be pursued to shut down uncontrolled inflammation, restore immune system regulation, and treat chronic autoimmune disorders such as lupus.

In autoimmunity, the immune system designed to fend off outside invaders mistakenly mounts an out-of-control destructive inflammatory attack against the bodys own tissues and organs. We have found an essential switch that controls immune inflammation, said LRI award recipient, Greg Lemke, PhD, professor of Molecular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute.

The breakthrough was supported at a critical juncture by the LRI, the nations only organization solely dedicated to funding novel and innovative science to prevent, treat, and cure lupus. Without the LRI, this project would have stoppedand a fundamental discovery in immunology would not have happened, Dr. Lemke said.

Major Implications

In this study, Dr. Lemke builds upon findings that he and his team previously reported, when he noticed that mice genetically engineered to be born without a tiny family of three receptorsTAM receptor tyrosine kinasesdeveloped an autoimmune illness similar to lupus in humans.

In the Cell article, Dr. Lemke now illustrates how these TAM receptors, under normal circumstances, are so critical in stopping the immune system from mounting an out-of-control inflammatory response against invading viruses and bacteria. When chemical messengers (cytokines) prompt immune cells to attack, he explains, they also activate TAM receptors, which then alert the cells to no longer react to the cytokines. This keeps the immune system orderly as well as relatively tranquil.

But in people with lupus and
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Contact: Liane Stegmaier
lstegmaier@lupusny.org
212-812-9881
Lupus Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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