Lawrence Berkeley Lab: Breakthrough Study Represents Promise for Immune System Research

Apr 3, 2019 | Autoimmune Disease, Basic Research, Berkeley, Immune System, Immunotherapy, Lawrence Berkeley Livermore Lab

Immune System

The University of California operates Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBLL), under a contract with the United States Department of Energy.  Perched atop the redwood covered Berkeley Hills—this national gem stares down on the magnificent San Francisco Bay—home to a culture of discovery, innovation and discovery.  It was here that we first identified antiproton, and discovered several transuranic elements as well as the discovery of the accelerating universe.

LBLL’s scientific mission has opened up, for the first time ever, an image of the immune system process.  More specifically, they have imaged the process by which an individual immune system molecule is switched on in response to a signal from the environment.  This has led to a breakthrough observation of the immune system activation process—where hundreds of proteins suddenly come together to constitute a linked network through a process known as a phase transition.

Published in Science, LBLL has provided the medical research community a tremendous step forward in the understanding of how the immune system is designed and fine tuned to detect even a single virus molecule within a vast sea of millions of various molecules, enabling the human body to expeditiously and efficiently recover from a viral infection such as the flu. With this breakthrough, scientists will now work incrementally toward a continuously improving understanding of how these particular proteins work, as well as why thy can go awry.  So as the LLBL breakthrough research now allows the scientific community to march toward an eventual understanding of how and why autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis come about—and possibly in the future generate insights into how to direct a cancer patient’s own immune system to cure cancer.

The teams’ findings arose out of ongoing research on the physical mechanisms of T cell signaling and the Ras protein.

Lead Research/Investigator

Jay Groves

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