A recent study conducted by Yale University has discovered a molecule, A485, that can temporarily increase white blood cell counts, a crucial component of the body’s immune system. This effect is challenging to achieve using existing pharmaceuticals. The researchers found that exposure to A485 prompted white blood cells to mobilize from the bone marrow, providing potential insights for future treatments that require an immune system boost.
White blood cell deficiency can be caused by various factors, including genetic conditions like severe congenital neutropenia and acquired conditions like reduced white blood cell counts after chemotherapy. Conversely, diseases such as leukemia are characterized by excessively high white blood cell levels. However, there are limited pharmacological options to adjust white blood cell counts in patients with abnormal levels.
The study observed the impact that A485 had on blood cells in mice. A485, which the researchers have proposed calling prohiberin, inhibits certain proteins that regulate gene expression, effectively activating or deactivating genes. After exposing mice to A485, the researchers witnessed a significant increase in white blood cells, including those involved in the adaptive and innate immune systems. This spike occurred shortly after exposure to A485 and returned to previous levels approximately 12 hours later. This short-term effect is crucial, as it prevents potential harm caused by long-lasting treatments.
Currently, the main treatment for low white blood cell counts is G-CSF (granulocyte colony-stimulating factor), a substance produced by the body that can be administered as a drug. However, due to its enduring effects, G-CSF’s clinical use is limited in certain circumstances. In contrast, A485 is as effective as G-CSF but has a shorter duration of action.
In order to determine if the short-term increase in white blood cells could be effective in treating infections, the researchers administered A485 to mice that had undergone chemotherapy and were consequently experiencing damaged bone marrow. These mice had also been infected with the bacteria listeria. The results showed that the mice treated with A485 had a higher survival rate and were able to clear the bacteria more effectively than those who did not receive the molecule. This finding is particularly significant in the context of cancer treatment.
When patients develop neutropenic fever—a condition characterized by low white blood cell counts after chemotherapy—antibiotics are typically the only approved therapy. However, A485 could potentially serve as an alternative option. Moving forward, further studies should be conducted to test A485 against other infections, as listeria is not the most common pathogen encountered by immunocompromised patients. Additionally, more research is required to better understand the mechanisms through which A485 produces its effects. Nevertheless, the present study provides valuable insights and potential options for enhancing white blood cell counts in patients with compromised immune systems.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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