Archive for July 28th, 2012

Discovery of new white blood cell reveals target for better vaccine design


ScienceDaily (July 27, 2012) — Researchers in Newcastle and Singapore have identified a new type of white blood cell which activates a killing immune response to an external source — providing a new potential target for vaccines for conditions such as cancer or Hepatitis B.

Publishing in the journal Immunity, the team of researchers from Newcastle University in collaboration with A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) describe a new human tissue dendritic cell with cross-presenting function.

Dendritic cells (DCs) are a type of white blood cell that orchestrate our body’s immune responses to infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses, as well as cancer cells. They are also very important for eliciting the immune response generated by vaccines.

DCs kick start an immune response by presenting small fragments of molecules from micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses, or from vaccines or tumours, called antigens on their surface. This leads to activation of another white blood cell subset called T cells, which specialise in killing cells and are crucial for eliminating cancerous or infected cells. Most cells are only able to present antigens from within themselves, and so will only elicit an immune response if they are infected themselves. Only a specialised subset of DCs is able to generate a response to an external source of antigen, for example bacteria, vaccines and tumours.

The identity of human tissue DCs that are capable of presenting external antigen to activate the cell-killing response by T cells — a process termed ‘cross-presentation’ — has remained a mystery. Their discovery, as revealed by this research, will help scientists to design better targeted vaccine strategies to treat cancer and infections such as Hepatitis B.

“These are the cells we need to be targeting for anti-cancer vaccines,” said Dr Muzlifah Haniffa, a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow and Senior Clinical Lecturer at Newcastle University. “Our discovery offers an accessible, easily targetable system which makes the most of the natural ability of the cell.” The researchers also showed for the first time that dendritic cell subsets are conserved between species and have in effect created a map, facilitating the translation of mouse studies to the human immune system.

“The cross-species map is in effect a Rosetta stone that deciphers the language of mouse into human,” explains Matthew Collin, Professor of Haematology from Newcastle University.

In the paper the researchers describe how the cross-presenting DCs were first isolated from surplus plastic surgery skin which was digested to melt the gelatinous collagen to isolate the cells. This research will have significant impact on the design of vaccines and other targeted immunotherapies.

The Rosetta Stone of our immune system: Mapping Human and Mouse dendritic cells

The Newcastle University team in collaboration with A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) have for the first time ever aligned the dendritic cell subsets between mouse and humans allowing the accurate translation of mouse studies into the human model for the first time.

The researchers isolated the dendritic cells from human blood and skin and those from mouse blood, lung and liver. Using gene expression analysis, they identified gene signatures for each human dendritic cell subset. Mouse orthologues of these genes were identified and a computational analysis was performed to match subsets across species.

This provides scientists for the first time with an accurate model to compare DCs between species. Professor Matthew Collin explains: “This is in effect a Rosetta stone that deciphers the language of mouse into human. It can put into context the findings from the extensive literature using mouse models to the human settings.”

Dr. Haniffa added: “These gene signatures are available in a public repository accessible for all researchers to benefit from the data. It will allow detailed knowledge of individual human dendritic cell subsets to enable specific targeting of these cells for therapeutic strategy.”

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Newcastle University.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Muzlifah Haniffa, Amanda Shin, Venetia Bigley, Naomi McGovern, Pearline Teo, Peter See, Pavandip Singh Wasan, Xiao-Nong Wang, Frano Malinarich, Benoit Malleret, Anis Larbi, Pearlie Tan, Helen Zhao, Michael Poidinger, Sarah Pagan, Sharon Cookson, Rachel Dickinson, Ian Dimmick, Ruth F. Jarrett, Laurent Renia, John Tam, Colin Song, John Connolly, Jerry K.Y. Chan, Adam Gehring, Antonio Bertoletti, Matthew Collin, Florent Ginhoux. Human Tissues Contain CD141hi Cross-Presenting Dendritic Cells with Functional Homology to Mouse CD103 Nonlymphoid Dendritic Cells. Immunity, 2012; 37 (1): 60 DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.04.012

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

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Feeling Worthless on Stage


So I’m a singer and actress. im on stage all the time at my school but everytime i try and do something right, someone else does it better and makes me feel like im nothing. The teachers dont do anything about it. People bully me and pick on me and i cant take it anymore. i cant do what i love if people treat me like dirt. No one seems to see what im able to do and how much talent i have. Im not the one to get jelous, i never do but its hard when so many people hate you.

A. If you have not reported the bullying behavior of your peers to school authorities, then do so immediately. If your teachers won’t listen, then report it to the principal or the guidance counselor, or whomever will listen. In many schools throughout the country, there is a “no tolerance” policy with regard to bullying. That essentially means that no bullying will be tolerated from any student, under any circumstances and the offender shall be punished accordingly.

The other aspect of this problem is “feeling worthless on stage.” Those feelings may be related to low self-esteem. If you do not have high regard for yourself, then you may minimize your talents and abilities. Just because you feel “worthless” does mean that you are worthless. Your self-evaluation is likely inaccurate and based on a low opinion of yourself.

Many people are convinced that they know what other people think about them, when in reality they do not. Try not to make assumptions.

It takes time to develop self-esteem. Self-esteem is derived from competence and life accomplishments. I would encourage you to focus on your development as an actress and as a singer and practice often. Try not to be concerned about what other people think of you, and speak to your parents or the school about the bullying problems. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Can Partner Lose His Interest in Boys?


I have a partner and we have been together for 15 years. I was 18 when we met and he was 33. Our whole relationship we have struggled with his attraction to younger men. He dated a 16 year old for 6 months when he was 31. We have went to a therapist over it and they have told me that since he has been with me he has not made any advances onto a young boy. But I catch him watching 12 year old boys wrestle, kiss or anything else he can find on youtube. I am not sure what to do. I love him and we have a life together, but this worries me.

A: It should worry you. Being sexually aroused by young boys is not a benign paraphilia. A young person could get hurt. Your partner could land in jail. At 18, you fulfilled his fantasy of being with a young boy – and you were legal. I’m concerned that 15 years later, now that you are clearly an adult, sex with you may not be enough to gratify him.

It is true that as long as someone has strong impulse control, he may never cross the line. However, some of the leading researchers who study pedophilia believe that indulging in watching such videos is a slippery slope. It encourages an objectification of young boys and reduces the older person’s ability to empathize with what they might feel if he approached them. Further, being with a lover is not a reliable deterrent for inappropriate or illegal sexual activity.

It’s not enough to hope that because he’s with you, he won’t act on his impulses. It’s important that he has a clear plan for staying on the right side of the line. That includes having empathy for children, having a well articulated plan for keeping children and himself safe, and being clear that he does have control over his choices. If that hasn’t been talked about specifically in therapy, it should be. If the therapist isn’t comfortable with a frank and detailed conversation about it, please find a therapist with expertise in the issue.

People do have control over their proclivities. But they have to be committed to it. I hope your partner is being honest with himself and with you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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