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Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) and the relevance of interferons
In a field of relatively new science that is still evolving, very few companies are active.
So what are lymphoid cells?
- Discovered just over 10 years ago, this is a relatively new area of biology
- They represent a discreet arm of the innate immune system
- Ubiquitously distributed throughout the body
- Enriched at mucosal and barrier surfaces
- Serve as the first line of defence against attack from micro-organisms, fungi, yeasts and parasites
- Regulate and coordinate multiple physiological and immunological processes throughout the body
- They are normally first in an immune response but they act in conjunction with the adaptive immune systems
The essential biological signalling molecules that initially modulate ILCs are called Type 1 interferons. Interferons belong to the large class of proteins known as cytokines, which are proteins that are part of the body’s natural defence make-up.
Cytokines tell your immune system that “alien” cells are in your body and they trigger immune cells to kill off those invaders. Interferons “interfere” with viruses and keep them from multiplying. They also possess distinct anti-cancer activity and modulate inflammatory responses associated with myeloid cells and control a major element of pruritis.
The birth of immunology was made official in 1908 with the awarding of the Nobel Prize for medicine to Elie Metchnikoff and Paul Ehrlich.
Metchnikoff is considered the father of cellular innate immunity, while Ehrlich is considered one of the fathers of adaptive immunity.
They were initially considered separate, but the discovery of innate lymphoid cells in 2008 brought both parts of the human immune system together again.