Friday, August 15, 2008

The Great Beyond: White blood cells retreat to victory - FTY720

August 14, 2008

blood cells.jpgWhite blood cells fight infections, but according to a paper in this week’s Nature taking them out of circulation might actually help cure chronic viral infections.

Mary Premenko-Lanier and John Altman, of Emory University, and his colleagues found that stopping white blood cells from leaving lymph nodes helped mice fight off a strain of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. This might lead eventually to a new strategy for fighting diseases such as hep C and AIDS.

“We think it’s crucial that we do experiments to check it out,” Altman told Reuters.

Mice fight off a strain of LCMV called the Armstrong strain but are not so successful against another strain called clone 13. The former causes mice to store white blood cells in lymph nodes but the latter doesn’t (press release).

So Altman’s team gave the mice a drug called FTY720 to stop cells leaving the lymph nodes. Lo and behold the mice managed to get rid of the clone 13 strain.

In a News and Views article on the subject Michael Bevan and Pamela Fink of the University of Washington Department of Immunology write:

It is reasonable to propose that enhancing lymphocyte trapping in lymph nodes augments the initial response to clone 13 infection. In support of this argument, the absence of lymph nodes alters the course of what would be an acute Armstrong infection into a chronic infection7.

... It seems likely that FTY720 boosts the response, either by enhancing positive regulators of immunity or by blocking negative regulators. ... Whatever the mechanism for the antiviral effect of FTY720 treatment, Premenko-Lanier and colleagues’ work1 serves to put clinicians who prescribe this drug on notice to expect some unusual side effects.

More coverage
Immune paradox could help treat Aids – Telegraph

Image: blood cells / National Cancer Institute via Wikimedia


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