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Immune system early warning sparks new treatments

September 20, 2022 – The immune system is one of the most complex and mysterious systems in the human body, and it is more versatile than previously understood, reports that, Researchers in the emerging field of mechanoimmunology track how our bodies fight disease and how to intervene successfully.

Unlike other systems that depend on the functioning of organs, the immune system uses millions of different specialized cells to patrol every corner of the body, looking for intruders and taking action as needed schedule. It also relies heavily on microbial communities, thriving bacterial communities that perform many of our essential functions, even though they are not actually our own body cells.

Scientists are learning more about how the immune system works every day, and now, researchers at the Buck Institute on Aging in Novato, Calif., have begun Discover how physical, not just chemical, forces in the cellular environment play an important role in the immune system. Immune Function.

Mechanical activity has been seen to play a role in other body systems, particularly the cardiovascular and skeletal systems. Buildup in the arteries of the heart can reduce blood flow, stress fractures can result from excessive stress on the bones, and scarring can result from stress on the tissues.

The idea that physical properties, not just chemical reactions, have a major impact on immune function is an idea that is just starting to gain traction new ideas. Dan Winer, MD, associate professor at the Buck Institute, found in his obesity research that an increase in fat tissue activates fibrosis — thickened scar tissue — which then triggers surrounding cells to potentially threaten the body Stay vigilant and respond to chronic diseases. disease.

Now, his lab is expanding its focus on mechanoimmunology to discover how physical forces affect autoimmunity, increased or decreased inflammation, and the ability to heal after tissue damage .

Expanding scientists’ understanding of these forces will open the door to new treatments for disease — approaches that rely on altering the physical microenvironment of tissues rather than delivering drugs to induce chemical reactions . For example, cirrhosis is a type of liver scarring that involves tissue that is much harder than the surrounding healthy liver tissue. If researchers can develop a treatment that reduces this stiffness, nearby immune cells may reduce their inflammatory response in the liver, which could have a positive impact on fatty liver disease. Other applications of this concept might address how treatments can respond to infections or help speed healing



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