A specific type of immune cell can attack the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, according to a paper to be published in the September 2006 issue of Nature Immunology.
Lyme disease is a chronic, debilitating disorder caused by infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which usually enters the bloodstream after a bite by an infected tick. Mice lacking a specific type of immune cell called natural killer T (NKT) cells are overcome with B. burgdorferi. Mitchell Kronenberg and colleagues now show that NKT cells from both mice and humans can detect B. burgdorferi, triggering an immune response against these bacteria.
These results emphasize NKT cells as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of Lyme disease. Whether NKT cells also spot other dangerous bacteria remains to be investigated.
Mitchell Kronenberg (La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, CA, USA.)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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