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Children's Hospital scientists identify possible target for prevention and treatment of pneumonia
Date:2/11/2008

Researchers at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have identified a key protein target that may be a crucial factor in the development of a vaccine to prevent and new therapies to treat pneumonia, the leading killer of children worldwide.

Research led by Jay K. Kolls, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology at Childrens, identified for the first time the importance of a protein known as interleukin 22 (IL-22) in the immune response to a strain of bacterial pneumonia. In the laboratory, the researchers were able to effectively treat mice with pneumonia by using purified IL-22.

Results of the study are published in the February online issue of Nature Medicine.

Currently there is no vaccine that covers all kinds of pneumonia and antibiotic treatment is sometimes limited by antibiotic resistance. As acute respiratory infections are the no. 1 killer of children in the world, progress in the development of novel vaccines or new, more effective treatments is critical, said Dr. Kolls, the Neils K. Jerne Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Our results raise the possibility of developing new protein-based therapies using IL-22 to limit or prevent pneumonia.

Pneumonia causes almost one in five deaths in children under age 5 worldwide more than 2 million children each year, according to the World Health Organization. It kills more children than any other disease more than AIDS and malaria combined.

IL-22 and interleukin 17A (IL-17A) are produced by a recently discovered lineage of cells known as T Helper Type 17 (Th17). Childrens researchers found evidence that the Th17 cell lineage and its cytokines IL-22 and IL-17A have evolved to promote host defense against certain infections in the lung caused by extracellular pathogens.

This is an important discovery because the Childrens research team proposes that by stimula
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Contact: Marc Lukasiak
marc.lukasiak@chp.edu
412-692-7919
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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