In the evolution of an organism, the characteristics which often prevail are those which increase the chances of survival and reproduction of their carrier. In contrast, for a robust immune system it could be advantageous for it to be variable, keeping as many options open as possible -- a hypothesis which has been tested and confirmed in an early study carried out specifically on HLA molecules by Federica Pierini and Tobias Lenz at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.
It is therefore essential for the effectiveness of an immune system to have many different variants of HLA molecules, since each variant can bind to several different pathogen or cancer cell protein fragments. The more the HLA molecule variants differ, the more pathogen molecules they can present to the immune system cells. "Pathogens are constantly changing, and the immune system has to adapt to them. This leads to constant new diversity in immunity genes," explained Tobias Lenz, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.
Researcher - Timothy - Chan - New - York
Together with clinical researcher Timothy Chan from New York, and his colleagues, Pierini and Lenz have investigated the influence this naturally occurring HLA diversity has on the effectiveness of anti-cancer immunotherapies. When treating cancer patients with immune checkpoint inhibitors, certain proteins that reduce the immune...
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