By Anthea Lacchia
Scientists from Trinity College and the University of Leicester have made an exciting breakthrough in understanding the body’s immune response to pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia. The researchers sought to understand what happens when the pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae infects a cell. The research showed that immune response is triggered by the bacterial toxin pneumolysin, which activates a group of proteins called NLRP3 inflammasome.
It was also discovered that this mechanism operates independently of other immune response proteins. These results have the potential to play a significant role in the development of vaccines against pneumococcal disease, which is responsible for over one million infant deaths annually and also affects the elderly by infecting the respiratory tract. Results were published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.