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Unlocking the Immune System's Response to Infection and Injury
Date:6/16/2010

Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, in collaboration with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute, have identified the protein signals at the heart of infection and/or injury, a finding that offers hope for the development of new drugs that selectively block this pathway and prevent sickness syndromes.

Manhasset, NY (Vocus) June 16, 2010 -- It is termed “sickness syndrome,” the clinical response to injury or infection, which includes fever, weight loss, behavioral withdrawal and inflammation. Although it has been known for years that toxins associated with infectious agents can produce this syndrome, until now it has been a mystery as to why patients develop nearly identical clinical signs after sterile injury, absent infection. Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, in collaboration with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute, have identified the protein signals at the heart of this response, a finding that offers hope for the development of new drugs that selectively block this pathway and prevent sickness syndromes.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Feinstein President Kevin J. Tracey, MD, Karolinska’s Ulf Andersson, MD, and colleagues at both institutions have been mining the immune system pathways that play a critical role in the body’s response to infection and trauma. The pathophysiological response that results in sickness syndrome is mediated by cytokines, molecules that ignite an inflammatory immune response. Most of the time it is a measured response to the conditions at hand, but sometimes the system goes awry and sends out too many inflammatory foot soldiers. The results can be disastrous. Understanding how this process works should lead to effective treatments to prevent sepsis and similar conditions.

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