A latest study has found a novel type of immune cell that can be out of control in certain chronic inflammatory diseases which may perhaps worsen the symptoms of conditions like psoriasis and asthma. Scientists from Imperial College London, the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata in Rome and the Center of Allergy and Environment (ZAUM) in Munich have put forth these findings
The new cell explained in the study, called as Th22 cell seems to be a kind of T-helper cell. These cells appear to be white blood cells that assist in activating other immune cells when the body is infected by a pathogen, such as a virus or bacterium. Moreover, they apparently control inflammation in the body to help fight off infection.
According to the study, Th22 cells are known to play a special role in controlling and coordinating immune cells that cause inflammation. In chronic and allergic inflammatory diseases like psoriasis and allergic eczema, Th22 cells could possibly be malfunctioning. This may result in excessive inflammation which can worsen symptoms. The study authors hope that it may eventually be possible to treat chronic skin and perhaps also airway diseases by targeting Th22 cells with new drugs.
Dr Carsten Schmidt-Weber, one of the lead authors of the study from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said that, “We are seeing an increase in chronic diseases like skin and airway disease because of changes in people’s lifestyles. These diseases can have a big impact on people’s lives and patients can face a constant battle to keep their symptoms at bay. We are very excited about discovering this new subset of T-helper cells, as we believe it could provide a new target for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases in the future.”
The study authors were believed to have examined skin samples from people with psoriasis, atopic eczema and allergic contact dermatitis and found Th22 cells. Further, they analyzed the samples and found an entirely new type of cell. Moreover, they seemed to have studied the molecules the cells made and found that one of them was a signaling molecule called interleukin-22 (IL- 22).
This signaling molecule apparently warns tissues that inflammation or infection is going to occur, so the tissues can get ready to recognize and attack pathogens or protect themselves against inflammation. The effect of this could perhaps be either protective or detrimental. For instance, IL-22 molecules and Th22 cells may cause skin cells to grow too rapidly thereby resulting in painful and flaking skin.
The study authors anticipate that their discovery could lead to new treatments for these diseases that would bring the cells under control. More so, they hope that their latest discovery may be able to provide scientists in developing treatments for inflammatory disorders by a new cellular drug target.
Currently, Dr Schmidt-Weber along with his colleagues appears to have been investigating the role of these cells in greater detail and exploring their role in disease progression. Additionally, they want to know how the cells may be generated in the body and whether there is any way to control these cells before they cause unnecessary damage.
The findings of the study have been published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.