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Decoding the Immune System, Unveiling the Intricacies of HLA Class II Molecules



Decoding the Immune System, Unveiling the Intricacies of HLA Class II Molecules

Scientists have successfully mapped the HLA class II molecules, which are an important part of the immune system. This is a new discovery that was recently published in Science Advances. Along with this accomplishment, a correct estimate of how these molecules present pathogen fragments on the surface of cells was made. As our bodies fight off illnesses, the immune system depends on cells to show signs of invaders on their surfaces. T-cells, in particular, are very important because they stick to these surfaces and kill the threat, which could be cancer, a virus, or another disease.

The Significance of HLA Molecules in Immune System Response

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules are the key players in this process. They are special proteins that tell the immune system when something unfamiliar is present. Morten Nielsen, a professor at DTU Health Technology and a key figure in the study, says that HLA class II molecules are very important in this complicated dance between the immune system and these sick cells. When a cell gets attacked, these molecules pick up pieces of proteins from the pathogen, bring them to the cell surface, and show them off. If the immune system thinks that the pieces being shown are foreign, it will start a defence response that will kill the infected cell.

Navigating the Complexity of HLA Variants

Because there are so many different HLA variants, however, the rules that regulate which protein fragments are shown and the many features involved have remained a mystery for a very long time. Considering that there are over 50,000 possible methods to show protein fragments, it has proven to be a very difficult task to comprehend this level of complexity. The exhaustive research that Nielsen conducted on HLA over the course of twenty years was crucial in elucidating these complexities and making a contribution to the development of therapies that engage the immune system in the fight against illness.

Mapping the HLA Class II Landscape, A Two-Decade Journey

Researchers from DTU, the University of Oklahoma, Leiden University, and pureMHC have made a significant breakthrough, as evidenced by a publication that was just recently published and titled “Accurate prediction of HLA class II antigen presentation across all loci using tailored data acquisition and refined machine learning.” This work is a huge feat for these researchers. The full mapping of the entire HLA class II system, which is referred to as the “specificity tree” in the publication, was the result of this collaborative work.

The ambitious endeavour of constructing this map took a total of twenty years to finish, partly due to the inherent heterogeneity of HLA class II molecules that exist among different people. The genes that are responsible for these molecules display a great amount of variation, which results in different types of HLAs recognising different components of different infections. These polymorphisms can influence susceptibility to autoimmune illnesses, organ transplant rejection, and response to therapies such as vaccinations and medicines, despite their shared role in the operation of the immune system. Despite this shared role, these variants can have a variety of effects on health.

In addition, every HLA class II molecule is made up of an alpha portion and a beta part, both of which are derived from one of three distinct groups of genes known as DR, DP, or DQ. The DR group is comprised of four different genes: DRB1, DRB3, DRB4, and DRB5. DRB1 is the key gene that makes up this group. The DP and DQ groups each have two genes in their collective makeup. Another layer of intricacy is added to the system by the fact that the alpha and beta sections can originate from the same gene or distinct chromosomes, depending on the circumstances.

The Functional Significance of HLA Class II Diversity

Over the years, some people thought that understanding the DRB1 gene would be enough to understand the functional HLA class II space. However, the study showed that different HLA class II molecules are very important in autoimmune diseases, the success of organ transplants, and maybe even in treating different illnesses. Because of this new knowledge, there is more interest in making immunotherapy medicines that can recognise all HLA class II variants.

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Large-Scale Datasets and the Power of Machine Learning

Nielsen and his colleagues had to figure out what pathogens these molecules recognise and how they show them to the immune system in order to figure out how different HLA class II genes affect health. As a last effort to figure out the rules that govern HLA class II molecules, big, high-quality datasets were put together that showed a lot of different HLA class II molecules and how they work. Researchers were able to make much more accurate predictions about how these molecules would work by using customised machine-learning models.

Nielsen thinks about how their study has changed over the years. Twenty years ago, they looked at 500 data points from one molecule. In their most recent paper, they look at data from 50,000 molecules. Along the way, we’ve learned more about the rules at play and made progress in technology, which has made it possible to learn more about the complicated world of HLA class II molecules.


Finally, the successful mapping of more than 96% of the HLA class II environment is a big step forward in our quest to understand how the immune system works. As we learn more about what this study means, it becomes clearer that it could lead to incredible improvements in medical treatments and our ability to use the immune system to fight off diseases. Scientists from various institutions have worked together to shed light on the complicated “specificity tree” of HLA class II. This has helped plan future research and therapeutic approaches in the ever-changing field of immunology.

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Veterinary News

Blue tongue Alert: Norfolk Livestock Farmers Navigate New Challenges



Blue tongue

Expanding Control Zones: Norfolk’s Battle Against Blue tongue Outbreak

Norfolk’s livestock farming community faces a heightened challenge as the bluetongue control zone expands in response to new cases of this potentially fatal animal disease. Bluetongue, affecting ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and camelids, has raised concerns after the confirmation of two infected cattle on a holding near Norwich. The total number of cases in the county has now reached 21 since the initial discovery on a Cantley farm in the Broads on December 8, signaling the need for increased vigilance and control measures.

RESOURCED ARTICLE Norfolk bluetongue control zone extended amid new cases

 Blue tongue

The regulatory authority in charge of such matters, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), recently confirmed the extension of the temporary control zone (TCZ) in response to the latest developments. This 10-kilometer zone was initially established to facilitate focused surveillance efforts and restrict livestock movements, aiming to prevent the disease’s further spread. All preceding cases were contained within the TCZ, but the most recent instances involved animals grazing just outside the zone during a high-risk period. Consequently, the TCZ’s boundaries have been adjusted, extending it toward Norwich to address this evolving situation effectively.

An interesting departure from previous protocol is the decision not to cull the infected animals this time. Defra has opted for an alternative approach, restricting these animals at their current locations and implementing disease mitigation measures. This strategic shift is attributed to a recent reduction in midge activity, diminishing the risk of onward transmission. The link between bluetongue and infected midges is crucial to understanding its spread, as it is believed that the disease was introduced to Norfolk and Kent by these tiny vectors, carried across the Channel from Europe during optimal wind and temperature conditions in September or October.

However, despite the absence of evidence suggesting the disease’s circulation through midges in the UK, precautionary measures within the TCZ are causing disruption and uncertainty for local livestock farms. Specific licenses are now mandatory for moving animals out of the zone, with permission granted only under circumstances of “urgent and genuine welfare need” or for direct transportation to a designated abattoir. This has added an extra layer of complexity for farmers who must navigate these restrictions while ensuring the well-being of their livestock.

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In conclusion, the expansion of the bluetongue control zone in Norfolk reflects the ongoing challenges in managing and preventing the spread of this disease. The decision to extend the TCZ, along with the nuanced approach to handling infected animals, showcases the dynamic nature of the situation. Livestock farmers must now contend with both the immediate implications of the disease and the regulatory hurdles imposed by specific licenses, emphasizing the need for a coordinated and adaptive response to safeguard the region’s agricultural interests. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and adhere to the evolving guidelines to ensure the well-being of both animals and the farming community

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Medical Sciences

The Nexus of Coronavirus and the Nervous System



COVID-19 Effects On Nervous System jpg

The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has ushered in the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the virus and its effects on the body, particularly the nervous system, is crucial in navigating these challenging times.

Introduction: Unveiling SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

Coronaviruses, typically linked to mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold, took an unexpected turn with the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, causing the global spread of COVID-19. This disease showcases a diverse range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe respiratory distress.

Neurological Impacts Unraveling the Connection

Research underscores that neurological symptoms associated with COVID-19 likely stem from the body’s immune response rather than direct viral invasion. Comprehensive studies analyzing cerebrospinal fluid have revealed the presence of antibodies, offering insights into the intricate interplay between the virus and neurological complications.

Immediate Effects on the Nervous System A Closer Look

While a significant proportion of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience mild symptoms, those requiring hospitalization often face brain-related complications. These can manifest as muscle aches, headaches, and, in severe cases, seizures or strokes. Understanding these immediate effects is paramount in providing holistic care to COVID-19 patients.

Vascular Complications and Blood Clots A Silent Threat

The virus’s interaction with receptors on blood vessel cells presents a silent threat, leading to vessel weakening, leakage, and microbleeds in the brain. Moreover, COVID-19 induces blood clot formation, heightening the risks of strokes, heart attacks, and organ damage. Maintaining optimal oxygen levels becomes imperative in preventing cognitive disorders and other severe consequences.

Recovery and Long Term Effects The Road to Healing

While a majority recover within weeks, a subset of individuals grapple with prolonged dysfunction across various body systems. The term “long COVID” encapsulates persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and pain. Recognizing and addressing these lingering effects is essential for promoting the well-being of those affected and informing future healthcare strategies.

Connection to Neurological Disorders Assessing Risk Factors

Individuals with pre-existing neurological conditions may confront an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Understanding the virus’s impact on the immune system emphasizes the need for vigilance in monitoring potential long-term complications, including stroke, dementia, and muscle and nerve damage.

Striking a Delicate Balance Navigating Neurological Safety in the Realm of COVID-19 Vaccines

In the current landscape of uncertainty, the COVID-19 vaccination stands out as a crucial tool in the prevention of severe illness. While the general consensus is that vaccines are safe, it’s essential to acknowledge that isolated instances of Guillain-Barre Syndrome have been associated with specific vaccine formulations.

The continuous vigilance exercised by authoritative bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a pivotal role. This ongoing monitoring ensures that timely updates on vaccine safety are provided, effectively managing the delicate balance between safeguarding health and addressing potential risks.

The benefits of vaccination and the potential risks associated with certain formulations underscores the importance of remaining informed. Individuals are encouraged to stay abreast of the latest information from trusted health organizations, enabling them to make informed decisions about their well-being in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

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In the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 scenario, maintaining a well-informed perspective on the virus’s effects on the nervous system is of utmost importance. Building a strong foundation for comprehension involves identifying and applying pertinent keywords linked to SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, and related subjects.

Amid the persistent challenges presented by COVID-19 globally, having a profound understanding of the virus’s impact on the nervous system becomes a source of empowerment for individuals, enabling them to make wise decisions about their health. The collective effort of staying informed and adhering to recommended guidelines allows us to collectively navigate the uncharted territories of this pandemic, striving towards a future characterized by improved health and unwavering resilience.

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Medical Sciences

Nanodrones Against Cancer,UNIST’s Innovation Marks a New Era in Treatment




Game-Changer in Cancer Research: UNIST’s Nanodrones Take the Spotlight

In the realm of groundbreaking cancer treatment breakthroughs, the spotlight is now on the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), where a dynamic team of researchers has unveiled a potential game-changer. Imagine a world where tiny nanodrones, aptly named NK cell-engaging nanodrones (NKeNDs), take center stage in the fight against cancer.

RELATED ARTICLE New revolutionary nanodrones enable targeted cancer treatment

Nanorobots attacking cancer. Conceptual computer illustration of a medical nanorobot attacking a cancerous cell.

Led by the innovative minds of Professors Sebyung Kang and Sung Ho Park from the Department of Biological Sciences, this team has cracked the code to revolutionize cancer treatment. These nanodrones, far from the futuristic sci-fi portrayals, are engineered to specifically target and obliterate cancer cells, marking a significant leap forward in the battle against this relentless disease.

At the heart of this breakthrough lies the ability of these nanodrones to engage natural killer (NK) cells, the body’s frontline soldiers against cancer. What sets the NKeNDs apart is their precision – think of them as nanoscale guided missiles homing in on cancer cells with unparalleled accuracy. The secret sauce involves utilizing AaLS protein cage nanoparticles as the foundation for these nanodrones, incorporating specific cancer-targeting and NK cell-recruiting ligands, aptly named HER2 @NKeND and EGFR@NKeND.

Lab tests have showcased the remarkable ability of these nanodrones to selectively bind to various types of cancer cells while rallying NK cells to mount a defense against the invaders. The real breakthrough emerged during mice trials, where administering HER2 @NKeNDs alongside human immune cells resulted in a significant slowdown in tumor growth, all without adverse effects.

Professor Kang Se-byung, brimming with excitement, highlighted the potential for customizing treatments for different cancers using these NK cell delivery nanodrones. It’s not merely about targeting cancer cells; it’s about doing so with surgical precision, minimizing collateral damage and maximizing the impact of the body’s immune system.

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This groundbreaking study, published in Nano Today, marks a pivotal moment in scientific progress. With the support of various institutions dedicated to advancing knowledge, the door to a new era in cancer treatment swings wide open. Nanodrones may just be the superheroes we’ve been yearning for, offering hope and resilience in the face of one of humanity’s most formidable adversaries. As we raise a toast to science and innovation, the journey towards conquering cancer takes a remarkable leap forward. Cheers to the heroes of the microscopic world.

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