How a child made scientists think of cytokines as knobs instead of switches

March 09, 2017

cytokine signals

An unusual case of a rare anemia is opening scientists up to a new way of thinking about how to adapt and employ cytokines, messenger molecules of the blood and immune system, as tools for treatment — tools that are more analog than digital — and to illustrate the promise of precision medicine, according to a Harvard Gazette report on new research from Vijay Sankaran, MD, PhD. The story of how the team came to this understanding begins with a child, diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder in which the bone marrow cannot produce red blood cells. The child, it turned out, had an even rarer anemia.

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