12 June 2019

The puzzle of science: When different pieces come together to survive the infection

Laboratório
#SR IGC Reportagem Lab 06 070316_edSandra Ribeiro 070316 - Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência - Oeiras - Portugal - Reportagem Laboratórios

5 researchers: 2 Nobel Prizes nominees, from 3 Universities and 2 science Institutes in 2 different continents are leading the way in discovering if patients will react better if they tolerate the disease instead of fighting it.

Could Tolerating Disease Be Better than Fighting It? A new line of research is being developed by these researchers: silencing the immune system and providing nutrients to the bacteria can actually improve health.

They are Janelle Ayres, Salk Institute, David Schneider, Stanford University, Ruslan Medzhitov, Yale School of Medicine, Andrew Read, University of Edinburgh and Miguel Soares, from the Gulbenkian Institute of Science and they are among the best on the Inflammation research area, says The Scientist.

“The unique possibility provided by the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência to perform fundamental research that pertains to organismal based biology, allows us to explore how regulation of organismal metabolism impacts on the outcome of disease.”, says Miguel Soares.

“Fighting infections does not have to be a total war”, says Ayres who have been proposing that disease tolerance is something that the body can do by tapping into different physiological systems, such as metabolism, to prevent illness.

Although our immune system is designed to eliminate pathogens that causes an infection, these 5 scientists identified another mechanism, namely disease tolerance to infection: instead of eliminating pathogens if there´s a change the body adapts to the infection such that it “tolerates” the presence of a pathogen.

At the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Miguel Soares team is looking at regulation of organismal metabolism as a likely mediator of disease tolerance. His team has been studying “sepsis and malaria among other infectious diseases and came to understand that un­fettered inflammation explained only part of the pathogenesis.”

What they have discovered is that a breakdown in glucose production, ultimately leading to organ failure, was another major reason why the disease was so often fatal. If this metabolic issue could be resolved, the group lead by Soares found, the animals could survive the sepsis-causing infection.

The study of the body response on diseases such as sepsis or malaria, affecting thousands of people around the globe, have breakthroughs in different research groups.

The research breakthroughs from all of these research groups, are looking into an area that has been neglected and could really make a difference in the future: treating and saving people’s lives. Immunologists and clinical doctors are following up these developments to apply it on infections treatment and even to treat cancer.

Thousands of researchers, everyday and in different parts of the world, deal with questions, doubts and experiences to find the way to know a little bit more of the unrevealed mechanism of life sciences and search for innovative ways to prevent, treat and improve people’s life’s.