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IRCM scientists find a novel research model for the study of auto-immune diseases
Date:7/3/2013

Montral, July 3, 2013 A team of researchers at the IRCM, led by Dr. Javier M. Di Noia in the Immunity and Viral Infections research division, discovered a novel research model for the study of auto-immune diseases. The Montral scientists are the first to find a way to separate two important mechanisms that improve the quality of antibodies. This study was featured in a recent issue of The Journal of Immunology.

Dr. Di Noia's team studies B cells, a group of white blood cells known as lymphocytes whose main function is to produce antibodies to fight against antigens. Antibodies are proteins used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects (antigens), such as bacteria and viruses, by precisely binding to them, thus making them an essential part of the immune system. Antibodies can come in different varieties (or classes), which perform different roles and adapt the immune response to eliminate each different toxin or pathogen they encounter. The body's great diversity of antibodies therefore allows the immune system to specifically neutralize an equally wide variety of antigens.

"Our project focused on two mechanisms that produce this wide variety of antibodies," says Dr. Di Noia, Director of the Mechanisms of Genetic Diversity research unit at the IRCM. "Because both processes are initiated by the same enzyme known as AID (activation-induced deaminase), it had previously been very difficult to study them separately. We were able to identify, for the first time, a mouse model in which the mechanisms could be analyzed independently during an acute immune response."

The two mechanisms in question are known as class switching and affinity maturation. Class switching is the process that allows a B cell to produce different classes of antibodies, so that a single antibody can be used by several different parts of the immune system. Affinity maturation, on the other hand, is the process by which B cells produce an
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Contact: Julie Langelier
julie.langelier@ircm.qc.ca
514-987-5555
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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