Building blocks of happiness against disease
Laughter is the best medicine – it has long been claimed to be popular. No wonder, because those who laugh happily and who are happy, release the hormone of happiness. An international research team recently discovered that one of the building blocks of the hormone Happiness actually strengthens our immune system and even contributes to the fight against disease.
Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) and Children's Hospital of Boston at Harvard recently showed new ways to fight autoimmune diseases, asthma, allergies and even cancer. The focus of research is building blocks, by which the body produces serotonin and dopamine happiness hormones. The research team found that these building blocks also activate immune system defense cells. Recent work has been published in the famous journal "Nature".
What do killer cells and happiness hormones have?
Both killer cells (T cells) of our immune system and serotonin and dopamine need the same building blocks to work. The international research team identified the happiness hormone tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) as our cell defense base activator. "The interesting thing about our discovery is that the actual system known in neurobiology can play a key role in immune defense of T cells," said IMBA Director Josef Penninger in a press release.
Independently against cancer
What the body can do recently has been shown by a new approach in which a person's immune system is intentionally activated to fight cancer cells in the body. This finding was honored with the Nobel Prize for Medicine. To deepen their understanding of immune defense, activation, and the metabolic processes involved, Penninger's team studied the biology of immune cells more closely and identified new possibilities for versatile medical applications.
Possible applications that are truly new and extensive
"This new approach connects two totally different systems in our bodies and is different from all previously known immune examinations," said Penninger. This opens up a variety of therapeutic options that can be used, for example, against inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, allergies, skin diseases or cancer.
BH4 makes soldiers from the immune system ready for combat
BH4 has been known to scientists for some time. It is known that molecules are involved in many metabolic processes. What's new, however, is that BH4 also controls the growth of T cells that function as "our immune system army." According to the researchers, this process occurs through iron metabolism. This is also the reason why people with iron deficiency or anemia often suffer from immune problems.
How our immune system works
The IMBA research team explained more clearly the immune system's defense process: "T cells patrol our bodies and expose pathogens or degenerate cells that can become tumors." When it comes to meetings like that, T cells will pass BH4. activated: it starts to multiply and starts fighting. However, this can cause misinterpretation, because T cells that are not activated properly begin to attack the body's own cells. This event can cause allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases.
Control targeted for the immune system
"Autoimmune diseases and allergies are the most common diseases that appear in the whole world and therapy is needed," Penninger stressed. In a new approach to autoimmune disease, BH4 is targeted to be inhibited so that T cells are not placed in constant attack mode. As a result, they will stop destroying healthy tissue or cause chronic inflammation. The first clinical trial of the new QM385 drug, said to inhibit BH4, is already in the initial block.
The process is reversed to fight cancer
The opposite is cancer, where promoting BH4 can help the immune system detect and target cancer cells better. Early tests in mice have shown that BH4 helps rodents fight tumors. "If you succeed in finding a cross link between various biological systems in the body, as in this case the nervous system and the immune system, you can sometimes make extraordinary discoveries," the researchers concluded. (Vb)