Boosting immune cells to treat eczema

A new study published by Science Translational Medicine shows a more effective way to treat eczema. After experimenting on mice, this new method is to boost the immune cell called natural killer cells (oh the irony).

Natural killer (NK) cells are generally associated with cancer treatment. They help fight foreign cells not recognized in the body such tumor cells that bear antigens, or molecules.

Researchers noticed eczema patients have low natural killer cells. They discovered this through the patient’s blood tests. What they didn’t understand was why. And like all researchers, they decided to conduct a study on mice.

The results determined that a deficiency of NK cells led to inflammation. This was due to the lack of an essential immunoregulatory step performed by NK cells.

Following this piece of information, they tested a new drug interleukin-15 (IL-15) superagonist. This drug helps produce more NK cells (what eczema patients are lacking). The results showed a significant improvement as the inflammation resolved.

The findings show two crucial things.

  • It helps relieve eczema
  • It restores the patient’s immune function that helps protect against viral infections

This finding is important because low cell levels of NK not only affect eczema, it can make a person more liable to pox, herpes, and even HIV.

Excited about these findings, researchers plan to move forward with more trials.

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