April 9, 2018 – Metabolic Regulation


Anchor lead: Can metabolism be used like a drug to manage your immune system? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Metabolism, or the set of chemical reactions that take place in your body to manage things, is now being used almost like a drug to either promote or inhibit cellular responses in your immune system. Jonathan Powell, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins who was cited in a recent Science article on so called metabolic therapy, explains.

Powell: It’s turning out that these pathways, which we knew were important, have this incredibly selective role in the different cells of the immune system. What it means is we can selectively regulate different cells of the immune system. The cells of our immune system, they’re specific. Because the different functions of the different cells have different metabolic requirements, if we target the metabolism of these cells we can really enhance the selectivity.  :28

Powell adds that one exciting aspect of this research is that drugs already on the market and with which we have scads of experience, like the diabetes drug metformin, can be used in this approach. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.