Unearthing immune responses to common drugs—7 February 2017

Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding immune sensitivities to well-known, and commonly prescribed, medications. A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging—with nodes at Monash University, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland—accessed national research infrastructure, including the Australian Synchrotron, to investigate what drugs might activate a specialised type of immune cell, the MAIT cell (Mucosal associated invariant T cell). They found that some drugs prevented the MAIT cells from detecting infections (their main role in our immune system), while other drugs activated the immune system, which may be undesirable. Their results, published in Nature Immunology, may lead to a much better understanding of, and an explanation for, immune reactions by some people to certain kinds of drugs.

Media issued by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging.


Image: Drugs can compromise the integrity of our MAIT cell protectors: MAIT cells are part of the regiment of immune cells that protect us from infection. While patrolling our bodies, MAIT cells rely heavily on clues given to them by the cellular “general public.” However, could some of the medicines we take to feel better, actually be compromising our immune system? Keller et al show how the cells in our body can mistake therapeutic drugs for cues of infection, inadvertently “dealing” them to our immune system and compromising the integrity of our MAIT cell guardians.
Image credit: Vanette Tran, Monash University. 

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, February 7, 2017