London, Feb 24 IANS | 9 months ago

A new, promising technique has cleared the path to develop more efficient vaccines against meningitis and pneumonia, responsible for the death of millions of children every year worldwide.

Innate lymphoid cells represent the first line of immunological defence on our body surfaces, which are constantly exposed to bacteria, such as intestine or skin.

Researchers have now discovered the presence of a novel subtype of innate lymphoid cells in human spleen essential for the production of antibodies.

"For the first time, we have discovered how these cells regulate the innate immune response of a subset of splenic B lymphocytes that are responsible to fight against encapsulated bacteria, agents of meningitis or pneumonia", explained Giuliana Magri, member of the research group of B Cell Biology at MIM (Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mediques) in Barcelona, Spain.

The available vaccines against encapsulated bacteria confer only a limited protection in immunodeficient patients, and are too expensive to be implemented in developing countries.

"At the same time, we lack information on the underlying mechanisms that regulate B lymphocytes, which has been a major hurdle in the development of novel vaccine strategies," added Andrea Cerutti, a leader in the field of B lymphocyte biology.

This makes the current discovery key in designing more efficient and well-oriented therapies.

This new finding also improves understanding on how the immune system protects us against infections, said the study published in the journal Nature Immunology.

(Posted on 24-02-2014)

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