Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles are studying the roles that different types of cells play in the immune system and the disorders associated with it. The researchers used two different types of non-invasive probes to uncover what roles played by the immune system cells on certain immune disorders.
One of the probes that the researchers used is known as an FDG, which is commonly used in PET scans to track how cells break down glucose or sugar. The other probe, known as FAC was first developed at UCLA and this probe measures the activity of specific biochemical pathways. The FDG probe is able to recognize immune system players such as activated macrophages which are immune scavenger cells. The FAC probe recognizes activated lymphocytes or cells that attacks infected or cancerous cells.
The non-invasive probes may help doctors evaluate certain treatments that target different cells in the immune system. According to Dr. Owen Witte, professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at UCLA, said, "We demonstrated with this study that each probe targets different cells in the immune system with a high degree of specificity."
"When tested sequentially, the combined information from the scans using the two probes gives you a better status of immune response," Dr. Witte further added. The two probes were first tested on mice and will later on be tested also on humans. The research can provide insight to doctors just how the immune system responds to immune system associated disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as multiple sclerosis.