13 Jul 2014

Research highlights: B cell control, 'brain fog' in coeliacs and conserving donor hearts for transplant

B cell control in the immune system: review article


B cell control mechanisms
Department of Immunology researchers have published an article reviewing the control of B cells by a group of proteins called TNF superfamily proteins. These proteins trigger necessary signals that activate or regulate the various protective functions of B cells in the immune system, and they are important to understand because B cell pathologies including some cancers or autoimmunity can occur when these functions are disrupted.
Inhibitors of TNF superfamily proteins have also been tested in the clinic, with some becoming successful approved treatments, highlighting the potential for research in this area to lead to new treatments.
Reference: Figgett WA, et al. Roles of ligands from the TNF superfamily in B cell development, function, and regulation. Seminars in Immunology (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.smim.2014.06.001 

Gluten-free diet relieves 'brain fog' in patients with Coeliac disease


Brain fog. Image:
People with coeliac disease often experience 'brain fog' - a feeling of cognitive impairment - in addition to intestinal problems. A new study by Monash researchers shows that following a gluten-free diet can lead to improvements in cognition that correlate with the extent of intestinal healing. Their results suggest that removing gluten from the diet can help coeliac disease sufferers to do better on attention, memory and other mental tasks.

Twelve-hour reanimation of a human heart following donation after circulatory death

Prof Frank Rosenfeldt
with the ex vivo rig
Despite increasing use of donation after cardiac death (DCD) and encouraging results for non-cardiac transplants, DCD cardiac transplantation has not been widely adopted for two reasons. The DCD heart sustains warm ischaemic injury during the death process and conventional static cold storage significantly adds to the ischaemic injury. Alfred-Monash researchers have developed a simple system for perfusion of the DCD heart with cold crystalloid solution using gravity-feed that can reduce ischaemic injury and potentially render the heart suitable for transplantation.