Novel Protein Holds Potential to Enhance Body's Immune Response
Rockville, MD -- July 8, 1999 -- Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) announced today that it has discovered a novel immune stimulant that may have significant medical use for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, and may also contribute to the treatment of immune deficiency disorders. The discovery may also lead to new approaches to the treatment of certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. The immune stimulant, called B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS), is a natural component of the immune system. The discovery and characterization of BLyS is described in the July 9, 1999 issue of Science magazine.
BLyS is a naturally occurring substance, a protein, made by the human body. It stimulates the production of high levels of antibodies by causing the antibody producing cells, called B cells, to grow and produce abundant antibodies. Antibodies act to protect the body from infections such as bacteria and viruses. People deficient for B cells are at high risk for infection.
BLyS may be a long sought missing link in the body's ability to protect itself from infection. For many years scientists have searched for substances that stimulate the growth of antibody producing cells. BLyS seems to be one of those substances. The discovery also helps to answer a well-known puzzle. It has been known that another type of immune cell, the monocyte, is involved in B cell stimulation and ultimately antibody production. The precise role of monocytes has been a mystery. The discovery that monocytes produce BLyS, a substance that stimulates B cell growth and activates antibody production, may be the answer to this long-standing riddle.
Potential Medical Uses of BLyS
The potential medical uses of BLyS may include: