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Researchers Report Major Advance in Fight Against Autoimmune Diseases and Allergies

by Kathy Jones on April 25, 2011 at 7:46 PM
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 Researchers Report Major Advance in Fight Against Autoimmune Diseases and Allergies

Scientists at the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology (RCAI) have identified the mechanism governing differentiation of B cells into antibody-producing plasma cells in what is a major advance in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

They found a role for the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway in B cell differentiation, a key step toward the development of B cell-targeted drugs for treatment of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

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As the only cells in the body that produce antibodies, B cells play an essential role in the immune system's defense against bacteria and viruses.

For the finding, the research group focused on the signaling of the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), intracellular signaling molecules known to play an important role in the cell cycle and survival of immune cells.
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The researchers generated mice deficient in two different ERKs, ERK1 and ERK2, and studied the effect of this deficiency on the fate of B cells.

The result confirmed that ERKs are in fact essential to B cell differentiation: B cells in mice without these key molecules were unable to form plasma cells.

The study was published in Science Signaling Journal.

Source: ANI
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