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The role of a protein in immunity & TB

Scientists in Ireland, using rats, have shed light on the effect a protein has on the immune system to impair its response to tuberculosis (TB).

Type 1 interferons are proteins in the body that control immune cells and can kill invading viruses, but excessive production of these interferons can result in people getting more ill. However, it is not known why.

Research at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), looked at the effect of type 1 interferons on the immune system by giving the protein to rats and analysing their immune cells.

The group found that the interferons increased inflammation, which interfered with the ability of other immune cells to kill bacteria – specifically, in this case, Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes TB.

Gina Leisching, at TCD, said: “We now have new targets to test to see if we can reverse this poor response by either boosting immune cell function or limiting the effects of type I interferons.


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