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Rare hybrid cell key to regulating the immune system
Date:5/24/2010

nline this week in PNAS. "It looks like a B cell and it's not. It looks like a dendritic cell and it is and it isn't," Johnson said.

While their studies are in mice, the cells also are in humans, showing up in some unfortunate places such as the drainage system for tumors, melanoma or even HIV where they likely help the diseases survive.

They also may be showing up in new dendritic cell therapies designed to strengthen the immune response to cancer. If the therapies happen to include some IDO-expressing cells, those could end up helping the cancer, said Mellor, the paper's corresponding author. "All you need is a few of these cells in your dendritic cell vaccine and you don't get stimulation any more, you get suppression," Mellor said.

Their confusing face could also cause hybrids to be lost in B cell-depleting therapies designed to lessen the immune system's attack on joints in rheumatoid arthritis. "These therapies may also deplete IDO-expressing cells and decrease therapy effectiveness because you are eliminating cells that are there to help you," Johnson said.

"This gives us new insight into why these therapies might not be working as well as we think they might," Mellor added. Long-term goals include figuring out how to manipulate the hybrid's activity to benefit patients.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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