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May 19, 2005

Nutrition Gene Key in Regulating Immune System

Topics: Medical Science News

Researchers have found that a gene, GCN2, that can signal a yeast cell to make bread rise and mice to eat a better diet also helps selectively silence the immune system. The finding may help explain how a mother avoids rejecting a genetically foreign fetus and provides a new target for treatments to help the immune system ignore other desirables like a transplanted organ. GCN2 is targeted by the immunomodulatory enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), and elevation of IDO in tumor cells can facilitate immune escape. Not known is how IDO becomes elevated or whether IDO inhibitors will be useful for cancer treatment.

According to Dr. David H. Munn, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at the Medical College of Georgia and lead author of the study in the May issue of Immunity, evidence is emerging that IDO seems to contribute to several important regulatory processes in the immune system. “But there has been a question in the field about how the IDO expressed in one cell can signal to neighboring T cells. Here’s our first evidence of one way it may do so. By giving you a target in the T cell that IDO is talking to, it helps you understand the system better and we think it also may give us another target for drugs to try to intervene in the system.”

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Cross posted by Hyscience

Posted by Richard at May 19, 2005 9:50 AM

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