IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dendritic cells are the master control cells of the human immune system, but they aren't always successfully activated to help lead the charge against cancer or infectious disease. It may now be possible to use a kind of bacterial DNA called CpG DNA to stimulate human dendritic cells for powerful therapeutic purposes, according to University of Iowa Health Care findings published in the Aug. 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Previous studies, including UI research, showed that CpG DNA activates the immune system in mice," said Arthur M. Krieg, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine. "Now, using human cell cultures, we have demonstrated there is a very potent way to use the bacterial DNA to activate certain groups of human dendritic cells." Krieg led the research team, which also included Gunther Hartmann, M.D., a UI postdoctoral research associate from the Division of Pharmacology, Medizinische Klinik, University of Munich, and George J. Weiner, M.D., director of the UI Cancer Center and UI associate professor of internal medicine.
Krieg said the findings may lead to improved vaccines and immune therapies for cancer. Human trials using CpG DNA to enhance a vaccine against Hepatitis B have started in Canada, and other clinical trials are planned for treating patients with lymphoma at the UI beginning within a few months.
Dendritic cells, a type of white blood cell, link the primitive arms of the
immune system with the more sophisticated acquired immune system by producing
chemical signals that a
Contact: Becky Soglin
University of Iowa