August 3, 2006
Contact: Melissa Campbell
(973) 972-4564 (office)
(732) 236-1569 (cell)
Researchers at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
New Mechanism for
Protection Against Intestinal Parasites:
Macrophages Found to Play a Novel Role in Host Immune Response
NEWARK — Researchers at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School have identified a novel mechanism for protection against intestinal nematode parasites, a discovery that provides a new paradigm in our understanding of the immune system’s role in protecting against multicellular tissue-dwelling parasites, which are a major health risk in underdeveloped countries.
These findings from the laboratory of William C. Gause, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research at New Jersey Medical School, were published in the August 2006 edition of the prestigious journal Nature Medicine (volume 12, no. 8), the top primary research journal in Medicine (Research and Experimental). They were performed in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Urban, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, MD.
The NIH-funded research of Dr. Gause and Robert Anthony, a graduate student in Dr. Gause’s laboratory, discovered that in the context of such parasite infections, T-cells - a component of the adaptive immune system - induce macrophages to differentiate into parasitic worm-fighting cells that are essential in parasite clearance. Macrophages were previously considered primarily important in mediating protection through phagocytosis of microbes, including many bacteria. Dr. Gause’s studies suggest that macrophages, activated through an alternative pathway, can help mediate protection against relatively large multicellular parasites.
Intestinal and tissue dwelling parasitic infections have a major impact on global health, causing chronic malnutrition and increased susceptibility to other infectious agents, and currently there are no available vaccines for this important group of pathogens. This discovery opens a door to the possibility of new treatments against parasitic infections.
The paper, titled “Memory TH2 cells induce alternatively activated macrophages to mediate protection against nematode parasites,” is available on-line in the Letters section of the Advance Online Publication at http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Gause, please contact Melissa Campbell at 973-972-4564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.