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'Good Clostridia' in the Gut Protect from Allergy and Autoimmunity
Date:12/23/2010

BOSTON, Dec. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Scientists at the University of Tokyo have discovered that specific gut-dwelling bacteria control key immune cells that combat allergies and autoimmune diseases.  The paper describing these findings was published in today's issue of the journal Science, and technology originating from the work is being advanced by start-up Vedanta Biosciences.  

Dr. Kenya Honda and colleagues initially showed that mice raised in sterile conditions had deficient levels of regulatory T cells in their colon compared to mice colonized with microbes.  "Regulatory T cells are the peace-keepers of the immune system," says Dr. Alexander Rudensky, tri-institutional Professor at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute, the Rockefeller University, and Cornell University, whose previous work helped describe this specialized subset of T cells. "When these cells are missing, the body has trouble putting the brakes on excessive immune responses."

The team of researchers led by Honda then zeroed in on a subset of gut microbes belonging to the Clostridia class that were responsible for triggering production of regulatory T cells. Feeding these "Good Clostridia" to mice prevented the development of allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.  "For millions of years, we have co-evolved with our gut microbes, communicating in an ancient language that may hold critical clues about how autoimmune and infectious diseases develop," said Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale, who authored pioneering studies of the innate immune system. "Researchers like Dr. Honda are making important strides to begin decoding this complex language."

This newly understood beneficial role of certain species of Clostridia may be reminiscent of the opposite effects on health of "good" and "bad" cholesterol.  While some species are harmful pathogens, such as C. difficile, many other Clo
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SOURCE Vedanta Biosciences
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