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Networking AIDS.

Networking AIDS

According to the network theory of immunology, after the immune system starts pumping out an antibody, it will eventually "see" the antibody and begin pumping out an antibody to that first antibody. In the process, the immune response gets muted. Since a fatally muted immune rsponse is a hallmark of AIDS, researchers Sybille Muller, H.C. Chang and Heinz Kohler investigated what happens to repeatedly immunized animals and compared that to what occurs in AIDS patients.

People get AIDS after being exposed not only to the virus but to foreign material -- blood or semen -- as well. To mimic that exposure, the scientists, all of Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., challenged mice with multiple injections of cells from a different strain of mice. The mice were constantly mounting an immune response to the foreign cells. When the mice were injected with a molecule from a bacterium, they produced fewer antibodies than did a control group, and the ratio between two types of immune system cells, T helpers and T suppressors, decreased. Both the suppresed ability to respond and the change in the T cell ratio occur in AIDS.

"Just by manipulating the immune system you can have an AIDS-like effect even without infectious particiles," says Muller. Repeated infections or exposures to foreign substances, she says, may thus make high-risk group members more susceptible to attack by the AIDS virus.
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Title Annotation:immune system research
Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 26, 1986
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Next Article:Vaccinating against cancer.

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