Drugs and drug-like molecules can modulate the function of mucosal-associated invariant T cells
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Some of the most commonly prescribed medications may be having unexpected immune-related side-effects, finds an Australian team co-led by scientists at the University of Melbourne.
The researchers used computer modelling to predict chemical structures that might activate or inhibit a specialized type of immune cell involved in recognizing microbial infections and mounting an immune response when it detects an invader.
Reporting in Nature Immunology, the team found a range of everyday drugs and drug breakdown products that seemed to modulate the activity of these immune cells known as mucosal associated invariant T cells — or MAIT cells. These drugs include common painkillers such as aspirin and diclofenac, as well as medicines used to treat cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The authors hope the work will lead to therapeutic strategies that help patients avoid harmful immune reactions to their medications.
- Nature Immunology 18, 402–411 (2017). doi: 10.1038/ni.3679