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Jefferson researchers mirror human response to bacterial infection and resolution in mice
Date:12/14/2011

PHILADELPHIAImitating human diseases using an animal model is a difficult task, but Thomas Jefferson University researchers have managed to come very close.

Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of Jefferson immunologists found that a specialized "human immune system" mouse model closely mimics a person's specific response and resolution of a tick-borne infection known as relapsing fever, caused by the bacteria Borrelia hermsii.

The response is so strikingly similar that it gives good reason for researchers to apply the strategy to a host of other infections to better understand how the immune system attempts to fights them which could ultimately lead to precise treatment and prevention strategies.

"This is first time an interaction of an infectious agent with a host, the progression of the disease and its eventual resolution recapitulates what you would see in a human being," said Kishore R. Alugupalli, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Thomas Jefferson University and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. "Our model is not only a susceptible model, but it actually tells us how the human immune system is functionally working. That is the big difference from the previous studies."

What really surprised the team is that the mouse physiological environment was able to facilitate the development of human B1-like cells, which is specialized type of antibody producing systems used to fight infection due to a variety of bacterial pathogens, including Pneumococcus and Salmonella.

In the study, researchers transferred hematopoietic stem cells from human umbilical cord blood into mice
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Contact: Steve Graff
stephen.graff@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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