Surface protein PD-1 may be useful in treating asthma and other autoimmune disorders

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner 



The Journal of Nature has published the findings of researchers from the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom who discovered a surface protein PD-1 marker already used in treating some cancer has also been useful in the treatment of asthma and other auto immune disorders by using a new tool for probing the molecular makeup of cells.

Immune disorders is caused by either a failing immune system with inability to remove unwanted cells or an extremely active immune system which attacks or fights healthy cells and tissues leading to autoimmune diseases such as asthma

The team in the new study focused on a recently found group of cells in the immune system known as innate lymphoid cells (ILC cells) which also has a subgroup called ILC2 which stimulates immune responses when there is asthma attack and other infection.

Scientists have noticed that levels of ILC2 cells rose when stimulated by toxins resulting in the inflammation of lung. Although, little information is available on how ILC2 cells develop from ILC progenitor cells in bone marrow and whether they found any distinguishing markers the moment they activated.
The team pioneered the use of a new tool called single-cell RNA sequencing to investigate ILC cells.

The new tools enable scientists to find individual differences among genetically related cells by examining their molecular and protein landscapes as opposed to their genetic blueprints. The new tool was used by the team to examine hundreds of bone marrow cells from mice to study how ILCs develop. They were able to discover the different stages of ILC cell progression, starting at the progenitor stage.

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The team found that the progenitor ILC cells revealed PD-1 protein on their surfaces and importantly, they found activated ILC2 cells also showed high levels of PD-1. This is why they suggested targeting PD-1 with a simple antibody treatment as a way to eliminate these potentially dangerous cells.
PD-1 is already a known target for cancer treatment. In this case, the aim of the drug is to target the protein on the surface of another group of immune cells called T cells, which normally kill cancer cells.

The study team hopes the new discovery about PD-1 in ILC2 cells will improve these existing cancer therapies and also help develop new treatments for asthma and other autoimmune diseases.

According to Dr. Yong Yu, he notes that “this study helps us understand the biology of the immune system in ways that were impossible previously. If we want to know how to affect the activity of the ILC cells, we need to know how they develop and what switches them on and off and not only is this useful for asthma and other inflammatory diseases, it could also help us understand what is happening during PD-1 cancer treatment and could potentially make that cancer therapy more effective.”




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