April 20, 2024

Understanding Common Immune Response across Diseases holds Promise for Multi-Disease Therapeutic Strategies

A recent study published in the journal Cell Reports by researchers at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) sheds light on a significant discovery regarding the human immune system’s shared characteristics across various diseases. This breakthrough offers new insights into potential therapeutic approaches that could address a patient’s primary condition without triggering secondary health issues.

Infections, autoimmune disorders, and cancer collectively contribute to a significant portion of global mortality, presenting substantial challenges to public health worldwide. It is well-known that treatments targeting one disease type may inadvertently worsen others; for example, cancer therapies like immune checkpoint blockade can induce autoimmunity, while drugs for autoimmune conditions may increase susceptibility to infections and cancer.

Dr. Jim Heath, President of ISB and corresponding author of the study, emphasized the importance of understanding the commonalities in the human immune response across different disease contexts to identify more effective therapeutic strategies.

The ISB researchers focused on two immune cell receptors, NKG2A and NKG2C, which play crucial roles in regulating immune responses. By analyzing extensive clinical and biological data from over 11,000 patients with cancer, 526 patients with infections, and 162 patients with lupus, the team classified patients’ T cells and natural killer immune cells based on NKG2A or NKG2C dominance.

Their comprehensive analysis revealed that a predominant NKG2A immune response was associated with reduced disease severity, lower mortality rates, and decreased incidence of chronic conditions post-recovery across all disease categories. Patients exhibiting higher NKG2A activity demonstrated lower inflammation levels and improved survival outcomes in cases of viral infections, autoimmune disorders, and various cancer types.

Furthermore, distinct immune cell profiles linked to NKG2A and NKG2C biases were identified, offering potential targets for modulating immune responses in diverse disease settings. The researchers also highlighted the ineffectiveness of targeting NKG2A for cancer immunotherapy, aligning with the outcomes of previous oncology clinical trials exploring this approach.

As the study opens new avenues for multi-disease therapeutic interventions, Dr. Heath emphasized the need for further investigations into the underlying biological mechanisms driving these immune biases. He anticipates that a deeper understanding of these factors will pave the way for the development of more precise and efficacious treatment strategies in the future.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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