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Innate immune system protein provides a new target in war against bacterial infections

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Research led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists has identified a possible new approach to defeating bacterial infections by targeting an innate immune system component in a bid to invigorate the immune response.

In this study, researchers demonstrated that the primary function of one of the innate immune molecules is to suppress inflammation, which in turn dampens the immune response to infections and other threats. Investigators showed the protein works by inhibiting two pathways that control production of specialized molecules that fight infections. The findings appear in the current online edition of the scientific journal Nature.

“The beauty of this finding is that if we can generate monoclonal neutralizing antibodies against this protein, we can block bacterial infection. This discovery offers a completely new approach to fighting infections by targeting the host immune response rather than the bacterium,” said Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D.

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