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Contact: Bonnie Ward
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La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

La Jolla Institute Discovery Points Up the Possibility of Creating a Vaccine for Heart Disease

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Caption: Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall, which is a major contributor to plaque buildup in heart disease. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells are launching their attack in response to normal proteins that the body mistakes as being foreign. "Essentially, we’re saying that there appears to be a strong autoimmune component in heart disease,"said Klaus Ley, M.D., a renowned expert in vascular immunology, who led the study in mouse models. "Consequently, it becomes possible to consider the development of a “tolerogenic” vaccine for heart disease, such as those now being explored in diabetes, which could induce tolerance by the body of this self-protein to stop the inflammatory attack." In this video, taken in the aorta of an atherosclerotic mouse, T cells (red) land on antigen-presenting cells carrying self-proteins (green), because they have seen these proteins previously. The video was published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Credit: Video courtesy of La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology.

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Related news release: A vaccine for heart disease? La Jolla Institute discovery points up this possibility


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