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Researchers identify cell group key to Lyme disease arthritis
Date:12/3/2008

aid the results were quite marked. "You could see under the microscope more numerous inflammatory cells in the joints of the mice that lacked the NK T cells weeks after infection."

Discovered in the 1990s, NK T cells are disease-fighting white blood cells of the immune system whose inner workings are still being defined. While most T cells respond to foreign proteins to protect the body, NK T cells are unique in that they respond to glycolipids, which are natural biochemicals made of linked fat and sugar. Prized for initiating a fast and vigorous immune response, NK T cells are emerging as a subject of significant scientific interest because of their potential for fighting bacterial infections and cancer. Kronenberg and Sellati have been among the nation's leaders in studying these cells.

Kronenberg's laboratory was among the first to identify bacteria which naturally induce an immune response from the NK T cells. Thus far, he has identified two such bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Sphingomonas species, a fairly benign bacteria found throughout the environment. However, he believes many other types of bacteria may also trigger the NK T cells. "This is an exciting possibility that needs to be further explored as it could lead to the development of treatments for many bacterial diseases."


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Contact: Bonnie Ward
contact@liai.org
619-303-3160
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Source:Eurekalert

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