Innate signal sparks homing of T cells

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Natural mechanism may lead to treatments for diseases such as asthma

The results of three studies published together in the Aug. 31, 2003 online edition of Nature Immunology help explain the uncanny ability of T cells to home to problem areas in the body and suggest potential new mechanisms to treat inflammatory diseases, such as asthma. When one fast-acting lipid hits the panic button about a wound, invading pathogen, or asthma-triggering antigen, it not only calls in the short-acting attack cells of the innate immune system for immediate battle, it also recruits the first T cells, the better-armed troops of the adaptive immune system that can escalate and sustain the conflict. The similar findings come from different investigative trails taken by researchers in the labs of Andrew Luster, Harvard Medical School (HMS) associate professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital; Ulrich von Andrian, HMS associate professor of pathology at the CBR Institute for Biomedical Research; and a third group at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.