Immune discovery could help to develop drugs for organ transplant and cancer patients
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Loyola University researchers are reporting surprising findings about an immune system regulating molecule. In the immune system, effector cells attack infected cells, while regulatory cells suppress the immune system from attacking healthy tissue. If effector cells are too active, an individual can suffer autoimmune disorders. But if regulatory cells are too active, the immune system will not protect the individual from germs and cancer. The study involved an immune system molecule called transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), known to be a powerful regulator of the immune response. In this study, however, the researchers demonstrated that TGF-β can amplify the immune response and result in a more effective targeted response under specific conditions in mouse cells. The next steps will be to study TGF-β in human cells and in animal models. Understanding the dual role of TGF-β could help in the development of drugs to either activate or suppress the immune system, as needed.