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Researchers motivate sick immune cells to commit suicide

(c)Monash University

The pathogens can cleverly hide themselves from the immune system, and can even use it for their own purposes. They hide in the macrophages, which are actually designed to absorb and kill the bacteria. There they not only grow and thrive, but are well protected from drugs such as antibiotics. Despite modern medicine, the mortality rate of the people is still over 10%.

Naderer, who conducts research at Monash University in Clayton (Australia), has now found a weakness in the bacteria, and developed a trick enabling these bacteria to be indirectly combated with drugs. There are two proteins in the macrophages which are necessary for the survival of these immune cells, he explained to the Austrian Press Agency. They are called Mcl1 and BclXL. There are no perceptible effects if one of the proteins is missing. But if both are gone, the cells will commit controlled suicide (apoptosis).

Naderer and his colleagues have already succeeded in showing the therapeutic possibilities of their approach in experiments on mice. According to the researchers, the therapy could potentially work with other pathogens which settle down in the cells of their hosts

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