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Penn Medicine Immunological News



The latest news about Immunology and Immune Disorders from Penn Medicine - the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Health System.



Copyright: 2009, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
 



Stability of Exhausted T Cells Limits Durability of Cancer Checkpoint Drugs

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:00:00 GMT

Checkpoint inhibitor drugs that boost the immune system to fight cancer owe part of their existence to infectious diseases. Microbes that cause diseases like HIV, malaria, and hepatitis C exploit and often activate the same checkpoint pathways -- cell surface receptors such as CTLA4 and PD-1 -- to slow immune cells and prevent their elimination by the host. 



Fatty Diet Activates Oldest Branch of Immune System, Causing Intestinal Tumors

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:45:00 GMT

A high-fat-diet-induced immune reaction causes inflammation leading to intestinal cancer in a mouse model – even among animals that are not obese -- according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Enigmatic Molecules Maintain Equilibrium Between Fighting Infection, Inflammatory Havoc

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:15:00 GMT

Special RNA molecules called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are key controllers for maintaining immune health when fighting infection or preventing inflammatory disorders, according to research led by Jorge Henao-Mejia, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Cancer Checkpoint Drug Target Governs Metabolic Changes in Exhausted T Cells

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 18:45:00 GMT

A new study suggests that tweaking metabolic steps in combination with checkpoint blockade drugs may improve some cancer therapies, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Penn Medicine Immunologist Receives Cancer Research Institute Award for New Discoveries on Exhausted T cells

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 17:15:00 GMT

E. John Wherry, PhD, a professor of Microbiology, director of the Institute for Immunology, and co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 2016 Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in Immunology from the Cancer Research Institute (CRI).



New Therapy Treats Autoimmune Disease Without Harming Normal Immunity

Thu, 30 May 2016 18:30:00 GMT

In a study with potentially major implications for the future treatment of autoimmunity and related conditions, scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to remove the subset of antibody-making cells that cause an autoimmune disease, without harming the rest of the immune system.



Penn Study Describes a Better Animal Model to Improve HIV Vaccine Development

Mon, 06 Jun 2016 13:45:00 GMT

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have figured out how to make a much-improved research tool that they hope will open the door to new and better HIV vaccine designs.



Penn and Rutgers Researchers Discover New Pathway That May Trigger Asthma

Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:30:00 GMT

Scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University have identified a biological pathway that potentially explains why current asthma therapies don't work well in many cases—and might be targeted to help those patients.



Study Reveals How to Regenerate Mouse Ears Without a Scar

Fri, 30 Oct 2015 13:30:00 GMT

In contrast to amphibian tissue regeneration, traumatic injuries in mammals typically heal with a fibrous scar. Researchers discovered that some strains of mice heal without a scar, by disrupting a protein, called Sdf1, that normally recruits white blood cells to sites of injury.



Penn Researchers Decode Microbial Signature of Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

Thu, 15 Oct 2015 13:30:00 GMT

A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Erle S. Robertson, PhD and James C. Alwine, PhD, has identified, for the first time, an association between two microbial signatures and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), the most aggressive form of the disease.



Off-Kilter: Penn Study Identifies Differences in Treatment Effect on Out-of-Balance Microbiome in Crohn's Disease

Wed, 14 Oct 2015 16:00:00 GMT

Different treatments for Crohn's disease in children affects their gut microbes in distinct ways, which has implications for future development of microbial-targeted therapies for these patients, according to a study led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Penn Medicine Researcher Receives Champion of Hope Award

Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:30:00 GMT

David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, a research assistant professor of Medicine, division of Hematology/Oncology, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has received the RARE Champion of Hope award for science.



Penn-developed, DNA-based Vaccine Clears Nearly Half of Precancerous Cervical Lesions in Clinical Trial

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:30:00 GMT

Using a novel synthetic platform for creating vaccines originally developed in the laboratory of David Weiner, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a team led by his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has successfully eradicated precancerous cervical lesions in nearly half of the women who received the investigational vaccine in a clinical trial.



Penn Researchers Devise New Approach for Making Vaccines for Deadly Diseases

Mon, 03 August 2015 17:30:00 GMT

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have devised an entirely new approach to vaccines – creating immunity without vaccination.



Penn Researchers Home in on What's Wearing Out T Cells

Wed, 03 June 2015 14:30:00 GMT

Sometimes even cells get tired. When the T cells of your immune system are forced to deal over time with cancer or a chronic infection such as HIV or hepatitis C, they can develop "T cell exhaustion," becoming less effective and losing their ability to attack and destroy the invaders of the body. While the PD-1 protein pathway has long been implicated as a primary player in T cell exhaustion, a major question has been whether PD-1 actually directly causes exhaustion.



10th Anniversary Symposium of the Penn Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology

Wed, 20 May 2015 18:15:00 GMT

A group of researchers from Penn and other institutions in the region will come together this Friday to celebrate 10 years of environmental health research in the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET).



Inflammation Stops the Clock: How the Immune System Controls the Human Biological Clock in Times of Infection

Fri, 18 May 2015 19:00:00 GMT

An important link between the human body clock and the immune system has relevance for better understanding inflammatory and infectious diseases, discovered collaborators at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Trinity College, Dublin.



Messenger RNA-associated Protein Drives Multiple Paths in T-cell Development, Penn Study Finds

Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:00:00 GMT

The lab of Kristen Lynch, PhD, published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describes a cascade of events that may explain changes in gene expression that occur during the development of the human immune system.



Penn Researchers Tame the Inflammatory Response in Kidney Dialysis

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 19:00:00 GMT

New work by Penn researchers has found an effective way to avoid systemic kidney inlammation from frequent dialysis by temporarily suppressing complement during dialysis. Their work appears online in Immunobiology ahead of print.



Penn Medicine Researchers Identify First Genetic Mutations Linked to Persistent Atopic Dermatitis in African-American Children

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:00:00 GMT

Two specific genetic variations in people of African descent are responsible for persistent atopic dermatitis (AD), an itchy, inflammatory form of the skin disorder eczema. A new report by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that loss-of-function mutations to Filaggrin-2 (FLG2), a gene that creates a protein responsible for retaining moisture and protecting the skin from environmental irritants, were associated with atopic dermatitis in African American children.



Immune System, Skin Microbiome "Complement" One Another, Finds Penn Medicine Study

Mon, 26 August 2013 20:00:00 GMT

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrate for the first time that the immune system influences the skin microbiome. A new study found that the skin microbiome – a collection of microorganisms inhabiting the human body – is governed, at least in part, by an ancient branch of the immune system called complement. In turn, it appears microbes on the skin tweak the complement system, as well as immune surveillance of the skin.



Immune System Changes May Drive Aggressiveness of Recurrent Tumors, Penn Researchers Report

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 16:45:00 GMT

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvaniashow in an animal model that the enhanced aggressiveness of recurrent tumors may be due to changes in the body's immune response.



Penn Team Identifies Molecular Root of "Exhausted" T Cells in Chronic Viral Infection

Thur, 29 Nov 2012 16:00:00 GMT

A new study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, suggests a novel therapeutical approach that might be used to shift the balance of power in chronic infections. The study appears in the November 30 issue of Science.



$4.6 Million Renewal from NIH to Penn Program that Aims to Diversify Biomedical Education

Mon, 13 August 2012 11:00:00 GMT

Yvonne Paterson, PhD, professor of Microbiology, at the Perelman School of Medicine, and professor and associate dean, at the School of Nursing, has been awarded an almost $5 million renewal by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences for the University of Pennsylvania Postdoctoral Opportunities in Research and Training, or PENN-PORT, the postdoctoral-training program she leads.



Brothers in Arms: Commensal Bacteria Help Fight Viruses, According to Penn Study

Mon, 18 June 2012 19:00:00 GMT

Healthy humans harbor an enormous and diverse group of bacteria and other bugs that live within their intestines.



Duality of Longevity Drug Explained by Perelman School of Medicine Researchers

Thur, 29 Mar 2012 18:00:00 GMT

A Penn- and MIT-led team explained how rapamycin, a drug that extends mouse lifespan, also causes insulin resistance.



Genetic Variation in Human Gut Viruses Could be Raw Material for Inner Evolution, Perelman School of Medicine Study Finds

Thur, 15 Mar 2012 01:00:00 GMT

A growing body of evidence underscores the importance of human gut bacteria in modulating human health, metabolism, and disease.



New method to replicate immunity-boosting cells to benefit transplant patients, according to Penn, Minnesota study

Thur, 19 May 2011 18:00:00 GMT

Penn scientists collaborating with researchers at the University of Minnesota describe in Science Translational Medicine how immune cells engineered at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania can be replicated by the tens of millions in several weeks.



Penn Researcher Receives $2 million from NIH to Test Macular Degeneration Drug

Tue, 15 Feb 2011 19:00:00 GMT

John Lambris, PhD, the Dr. Ralph and Sallie Weaver Professor of Research Medicine in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute to test a new class of drugs called complement inhibitors in a primate model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).



Border Patrol: Immune Cells Protect Body from Invaders, According to Penn Researchers

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 17:00:00 GMT

Penn researchers have identified an immune cell population that acts as the body's border patrol with the outside world. They discovered that these lymphoid tissue inducer cells maintain immunity in the intestine of mice. The research appeared in the most recent online issue of Immunity.



Penn Study Shows Two-Sided Immune Cell Could be Harnessed to Shrink Tumors

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 19:00:00 GMT

A recently identified immune cell that directs other cells to fight infection plays a critical role in regulating the immune system in both health and disease. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how a stimulatory molecule and a protein found on the membrane of another immune cell make these T helper 17 cells multi-taskers of sorts: They protect the body against infection and cancer, but are also culprits in some autoimmune diseases and out-of-control, cancerous cell growth. This new understanding suggests that targeting or inhibiting the involved protein pathways might be a new way to treat cancer, chronic infection, and some autoimmune diseases. 



Penn Study Shows How Variations of Same Protein Affect Immune Response

Fri, 15 Oct 2010 15:00:01 GMT

How a T cell decides to make protein X, Y, or Z can have profound effects for fighting foreign invaders or staving off dire autoimmune reactions. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified the steps that control how different forms of an immune cell protein called CD45, which is critical for activating the immune system when faced with pathogens, are controlled in the arc of a body's immune response. 



Penn Researchers Present Phase II HIV Gene Therapy Trial Data at CROI 2010

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 23:59:59 GMT

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine presented today the results from an ongoing Phase I/II open-label clinical trial of Lexgenleucel-T at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in San Francisco, CA. Lexgenleucel-T is a cell and gene therapy product being investigated for the treatment of HIV infection.



"Good" Bacteria Keep Immune System Primed to Fight Future Infections

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 20:00:00 GMT

Scientists have long pondered the seeming contradiction that taking broad-spectrum antibiotics over a long period of time can lead to severe secondary bacterial infections. Now researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may have figured out why. The investigators show that "good" bacteria in the gut keep the immune system primed to more effectively fight infection from invading pathogenic bacteria.



Why Some Monkeys Don't Get AIDS

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 16:30:00 GMT

Two studies published this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation provide a significant advance in understanding how some species of monkeys such as sooty mangabeys and African green monkeys avoid AIDS when infected with SIV, the simian equivalent of HIV. Researchers comparative genomics of SIV infection, attempting to identify possible genes related to disease progression or resistance. Their findings change the way AIDS researchers think about human versus simian AIDS infection.



New Cellular Therapy for HIV in World’s First Engineered T Cell Receptor Trial

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 14:00:00 GMT

Researchers today announced the opening for enrollment of the first ever study using patients’ cells carrying an engineered T cell receptor to treat HIV. The trial may have important implications in the development of new treatments for HIV potentially slowing – or even preventing – the onset of AIDS.



Protein Structures from the Human Immune System’s Oldest Branch Shed Light on a Range of Diseases

Wed, 17 Jun 2009 18:10:00 GMT

Researchers have determined the structure of C3 convertase and of the C3b fragment in complex with factor H. These new structures, both involving a central component of an enzyme important to the complement system of the immune response, reveal how this system fights invading microbes while avoiding problems of the body attacking itself.



Penn Study Demonstrates New Way to Boost Immune Memory

Thu, 04 Jun 2009 14:20:00 GMT

After a vaccination or an infection, the human immune system remembers to keep protecting against invaders it has already encountered, with the aid of specialized B-cells and T-cells. Immunological memory has long been the subject of intense study, but the underlying cellular mechanisms regulating the generation and persistence of long-lived memory T cells remain largely undefined. Now, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers have found that a common anti-diabetic drug might enhance the effectiveness of vaccines. The findings are described this week in an advanced online publication of Nature.



NCI-Penn Collaboration Finds Targeted Immune Cells Shrink Tumors in Mice

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 14:00:00 GMT

Researchers have generated altered immune cells that are able to shrink, and in some cases eradicate, large tumors in mice. The immune cells target mesothelin, a protein that is highly expressed, or translated in large amounts from the mesothelin gene, on the surface of several types of cancer cells. The approach, developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), shows promise in the development of immunotherapies for certain tumors. The study appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



Penn Study Identifies How Ebola Virus Avoids the Immune System

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 16:00:00 GMT

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have likely found one reason why the Ebola virus is such a powerful, deadly, and effective virus. Using a cell culture model for Ebola virus infection, they have discovered that the virus disables a cellular protein called tetherin that normally can block the spread of virus from cell to cell. 



Reduction in Gene Rearrangement in B Cells Related to Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 20:00:00 GMT

More drafts usually mean a better product and so it also seems to go with the human immune system. As B cells develop, genes rearrange to allow their antibodies to recognize different foreign invaders or pathogens. But sometimes antibodies are created that recognize and attack the body’s own cells. These self-reactive antibodies, like early drafts of a manuscript, must be edited into safer versions. This process is called receptor editing and is important for central or early B cell tolerance, which occurs while B cells are still developing in the bone marrow. A research team led by Nina Luning Prak, M.D., Ph.D, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has discovered that this editing process may go awry in people with certain types of autoimmune diseases.



Engineered Killer T-Cell Recognizes HIV-1’s Lethal Molecular Disguises
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and colleagues in the United Kingdom have engineered T cells able to recognize HIV-1 strains that have evaded the immune system. The findings of the study, published online in the journal Nature Medicine, have important implications for developing new treatments for HIV, especially for patients with chronic infection who fail to respond to antiretroviral regimens.



Penn Scientists Show How Body Determines Optimal Amount of Germ-Fighting B Cells
New research reveals a complicated interplay between two receptors on the surface of B cells that allows them to integrate their signals, which are at odds with one another. 'One receptor sends signals to the cell nucleus that says, 'yes stay alive, the body needs more B cells,' while the other says ‘'wait a minute, be careful which B cells are allowed to live.''



Penn Study Shows Immune System Can Hurt As Well As Help Fight Cancer
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that some proteins of the immune system can promote tumor growth. Investigators found that instead of fighting tumors, the protein C5a, which is produced during an immune response to a developing tumor, helps tumors build molecular shields against T-cell attack. These findings appeared online this week in Nature Immunology.



Penn Animal Study Identifies New DNA Weapon Against Avian Flu
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a potential new way to vaccinate against avian flu. By delivering vaccine via DNA constructed to build antigens against flu, along with a minute electric pulse, researchers have immunized experimental animals against various strains of the virus. This approach could allow for the build up of vaccine reserves that could be easily and effectively dispensed in case of an epidemic.



Zinc Finger Proteins Put Personalized HIV Therapy Within Reach
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and collaborators are using minute, naturally occurring proteins called zinc fingers to engineer T cells to one day treat AIDS in humans.



New Mechanism for Viral Replication
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a new strategy that Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) uses to dupe infected cells into replicating its viral genome. This allows the virus to remain virtually undetected by the body's immune system. Previous work suggested KSHV needed viral proteins to initiate replication, but this is the first study to directly show that a section of viral DNA can independently draw upon proteins within a host cell to promote its own replication. The study was published in the August issue of Cell Host and Microbe.



How a Key Protein Stops Inflammation
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine recently identified how a regulatory protein called Bcl-3 helps to control the body's inflammation response to infection by interfering a critical biochemical process called ubiquitination. While previous studies suggested Bcl-3 plays a role in immunity, this is the first report that Bcl-3 regulates inflammation by blocking ubiquitination. Their findings, published in Science, open new avenues of exploration for developing therapies to treat infectious or inflammatory diseases, such as sepsis, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.



“Sjögren's Walkabout” To Raise Awareness About Debilitating Syndrome
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center is a proud sponsor of the third annual Pennsylvania “Sjögren's Walkabout,” which aims to increase awareness of the syndrome while raising funds for the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation’s research and education programs.



Penn Researchers Discover New Molecular Path to Fight Autoimmune Diseases
Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis are among a variety of autoimmune diseases that are aggravated when one type of white blood cell, called the immune regulatory cell, malfunctions. In humans, one cause of this malfunction is when a mutation in a gene called FOXP3 disables the immune cells' ability to function. In a new study published online next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how to modify enzymes that act on the FOXP3 protein, in turn making the regulatory immune cells work better. These findings have important implications for treating autoimmune-related diseases.



How Do Immune Cells Decide What Role They Play in Fighting Infection?
How do immune cells decide to respond to invading microbes by either fighting to the death or becoming the body’s memory for future infections? Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that immune cells can differ in their inheritance of molecules that regulate cell fate, and therefore what role they play in fighting infection. The research appears this week in an early online issue of Science.



AIDS-Related Virus Tricks Cells to Become Tumors
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) subverts a normal cell process in order to promote tumor growth. The finding, published in the most recent issue of PLoS Pathogens, offers new potential strategies for treating Kaposi's sarcoma and other cancers associated with viruses.



Fighting HIV With HIV: New Gene Therapy Vector Shows Promise
A protein with the ironic name 'Srcasm' can counteract the effects of tumor-promoting molecules in skin cells, according to new research by investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Using animal models, the researchers discovered that Srcasm acts like a brake in epithelial cells, preventing uncontrolled cell growth caused by a family of proteins called Src kinases. This finding, published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, suggests a target for future gene therapy to treat skin, head, neck, colon, and breast cancers.



How the Immune System Avoids Attacking Itself
A finding by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers about how immune cells 'decide' to become active or inactive may have applications in fighting cancerous tumors, autoimmune diseases, and organ transplant rejection.



Penn Researcher Wins Prestigious Ho-Am Prize
Yongwon Choi, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been awarded Korea's 2006 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine.



"Sjogren's Walkabout" To Raise Awareness About Debilitating Syndrome
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center is a proud sponsor of the second annual "Sjogren's Walkabout," which aims to increase awareness of the syndrome while helping to raise money to support the Foundation’s research and education programs.