Dr. André Veillette's team elucidates a molecular mechanism associated
with an immune disorder
MONTREAL, June 7, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - A team of researchers at the IRCM
led by Dr. André Veillette made an important breakthrough in the field
of immunology, which will be published online today by the scientific
journal Immunity. The scientists explained a poorly understood molecular mechanism
associated with a human immune disorder known as XLP disease or
"We studied the SAP molecule, which plays a critical role in multiple
different types of immune cells," says Dr. Veillette, Director of the
Molecular Oncology research unit at the IRCM. "More specifically, we
wanted to understand why SAP is an essential component of natural
killer cells' ability to eliminate abnormal blood cells."
Natural killer (NK) cells are crucial to the immune system, and provide
rapid responses against cancer and virus-infected cells, especially
blood cells as can be found in leukemia and lymphomas. Patients with
XLP are at a high risk of developing lymphomas.
"Until now, the way by which SAP enhances NK cells' response to abnormal
blood cells was not well understood," explains Zhongjun Dong, former
researcher in Dr. Veillette's laboratory and first author of the
article. "We discovered that SAP stimulates the function of NK cells
through a double mechanism. On one hand, it couples the necessary genes
and enzymes to increase NK cell responses, and on the other hand, it
prevents genes from inhibiting these responses." Dr. Dong is now a
professor at Tsinghua University, a leading university in China.
"The SAP molecule is important in immunity, as it is associated with
most cases of XLP disease," adds Dr. Veillette. "In addition, our
findings may have implications on the role of SAP in other diseases
such as lupus and arthritis."
According to the XLP Research Trust, X-linked lymphoproliferative
disease (XLP), also known as Duncan's syndrome, is a fatal disease
affecting boys worldwide. The cause of the condition was only found in
1998, so many cases may not yet have been properly diagnosed. If
untreated, approximately 70% of patients with XLP die by the age of 10.
Dr. Veillette's research is funded by the Canada Research Chairs program
and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). "I applaud Dr.
Veillette and his team for their research in the field of human immune
disorder and their breakthrough discovery in understanding the role of
the SAP protein in controlling abnormal blood cells," said Dr. Marc
Ouellette, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and
Immunity. "Their work will contribute to a better understanding of our
immune system and how to treat human immune diseases for improved
health for all Canadians."
For more information on this discovery, please refer to the article
summary published online by Immunity: http://www.cell.com/immunity/abstract/S1074-7613(12)00231-2.
About Dr. André Veillette
André Veillette obtained his medical degree from the Université Laval.
He is Full IRCM Research Professor and Director of the Molecular
Oncology research unit. Dr. Veillette is a full researcher-professor in
the Department of Medicine (accreditation in molecular biology) at the
Université de Montréal. He is also adjunct professor in the Department
of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine) at McGill University.
Dr. Veillette holds the Canada Research Chair in Immune System
Signalling. For more information, visit www.ircm.qc.ca/veillette.
About the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)
Founded in 1967, the IRCM (www.ircm.qc.ca) is currently comprised of 36 research units in various fields, namely
immunity and viral infections, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,
cancer, neurobiology and development, systems biology and medicinal
chemistry. It also houses three specialized research clinics, seven
core facilities and three research platforms with state-of-the-art
equipment. The IRCM employs 425 people and is an independent
institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. The IRCM clinic
is associated to the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal
(CHUM). The IRCM also maintains a long-standing association with McGill
About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency.
CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its
translation into improved health, more effective health services and
products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of
13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100
health researchers and trainees across Canada.
SOURCE Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal
For further information:
For more information and to schedule an interview with Dr. Veillette, please contact:
Communications Officer (IRCM)
Communications Director (IRCM)