Scientists identify new cell to lower risk of hardening of ateries
A group of scientists, including one of the two recipients of this year's Nobel prize in medicine, the late Ralph M. Steinman, has identified a new cell that helps reduce risks of the hardening of the ateries, South Korea's science ministry said Friday.
The research, published Thursday (U.S. time) on the web site of the international science journal Immunity, was partly funded by South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
According to the ministry, the researchers have confirmed that immune cells, called FMS-like tyrosine kinase receptor-3 (Flt3), that previously were thought to exist only in immune system organs also exist in blood vessels. They were found to help increase the density of lymphocytes in blood, which in turn lowers the risks of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries.
The cells are dendritic, which is a term coined in 1973 by the late professor of The Rockefeller University, which eventually won him this year's Nobel prize, three days after his death.
The findings are currently confined to mice, but similar findings in humans may open up a new way to treat the disease.
"We plan to confirm with the joint research team whether the dendritic cells with such a mechanism also exist in humans," said Oh Goo-taeg, a professor from Seoul's Ewha Womans University.
The research group also included Prof. Choi Jae-hoon of South Korea's Hanyang University and Jung Cheol-ho of The Rockefeller University. (Yonhap)