Immunology is the study of the immune system, a complex system of processes that guards against and fights disease. The human immune system has two broad lines of defense, innate and adaptive immunity, which initiate first line counters and longer term antigen-specific responses, respectively. Understanding the interplay between these two branches has enabled the development of advanced treatments against specific pathogens and is key to understanding autoimmune disorders wherein immune dysfunction leads to attacks on endogenous tissue.
LBPA antibody recognizes lysobisphosphatidic acid also termed bis(monoacylglyceryl)phosphate (BMP). LBPA is a lipid antigen for the autoimmune disorder, anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS).
Sphingosine 1-Phosphate (S1P) is a key component of the sphingolipid signaling cascade and is known to modulate T-cell trafficking. The Sphingosine 1-Phosphate ELISA kit (S1P ELISA) is a sensitive and robust method for the quantification of S1P in biological samples.
Production of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate, PI(3)P, is necessary for proper trafficking of STING, a critical protein in innate immunity that acts as a cytosolic DNA sensor.
N-Formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP) is an N-formylated tripeptide that acts as a potent polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemotactic peptide factor and macrophage activator. fMLP is part of an oligopeptide family involved in innate immunity against pathogens.
Innate immunity is the arm of the immune system that first detects invaders such as viruses and bacteria or tissue trauma. This response is non-specific in that it activates various types of white blood cells to either attack pathogens or initiate repair. These cell types include: eosinophils, basophils, dendritic cells, mast cells, Langerhans cells, monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells. These cells are primed for action and initiate an inflammatory cascade that can provide protection for several days if the pathogen or injury is not cleared. In cases where innate immunity is insufficient, adaptive immunity can be activated.
Adaptive immunity is the second line of defense and involves specialized cells that target and eradicate pathogens and foreign invaders. There are two main classes of cells that mediate adaptive immunity: B cells and T cells. B cells have the capacity to produce antibodies when activated by an antigen. Subtypes of B cells also have the capacity to present the antigen on their cell surface to T cells. This is known as antigen presentation and can also be accomplished with certain innate immune cells. Once T cells are activated via antigen presentation, they can either directly induce cytotoxicity and cell death in the invading cells or release cytokines to further coordinate responses amongst adaptive immune cells.
The adaptive immune system also has what is known as ‘immunological memory‘ which means that subsequent encounters to a pathogen are enhanced by the response to the initial encounter. Memory B cells are a type of plasma cell that are able to produce antibodies over a long period of time. In parallel, memory T cells no longer require direct stimulation from an antigen in order to proliferate. These mechanisms are long-lived and form the basis for the efficacy of vaccination.
Types of Immunotherapy
In simple terms, immunotherapy is any therapy that takes advantage of the immune system’s natural processes to treat a disease. Outside of pathogen-associated vaccines, the most prominent use of immunotherapy appears in cancer treatments.
Lab-made monoclonal antibodies can be used to target proteins that are over-active in cancer cells or proteins that are involved in ‘immune checkpoints‘. These checkpoints are meant to prevent the body from attacking itself and some types of cancer have developed mechanisms to activate this mechanism and evade immune cell activity. Thus, these inhibitors prevent cancer cells from hiding from the immune system.
T-cell therapy has also gained traction in cancer treatment. The therapy utilizes T cells harvested from a patients blood that are then engineered to express a receptor that is specific for antigens on the surface of cancer cells. When the engineered T cells are injected back into the patient, they should then be able to specifically recognize cancer cells and degrade them.
There is also a great deal of interest in using antibody-based immunotherapies for neurodegeneration. As mentioned in our Neuroscience Resources, a hallmark of many neurodegenerative disorders is protein aggregation. Because these protein aggregates tend to be of a single protein species within a specific disease, there has been a considerable amount of effort in developing monoclonal antibodies that target aggregate-specific conformations of these proteins. The hope and goal is that application of these antibodies will clear the aggregates and alter the course of the disease.