Penn Medicine Study Finds Red Blood Cells Play Much Larger Role in Immune System Through Discovery of DNA-Binding Capability

New research has revealed that red blood cells function as critical immune sensors by binding cell-free DNA, called nucleic acid, present in the body’s circulation during sepsis and COVID-19, and that this DNA-binding capability triggers their removal from circulation, driving inflammation and anemia during severe illness and playing a much larger role in the immune system than previously thought. Scientists have long known that red blood cells, which are essential in delivering oxygen throughout the body, also interacted with the immune system, but didn’t know whether they directly altered inflammation, until now. The study, led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was published today in Science Translational Medicine.

Penn Medicine Study Finds Red Blood Cells Play Much Larger Role in Immune System Through Discovery of DNA-Binding Capability

New research has revealed that red blood cells function as critical immune sensors by binding cell-free DNA, called nucleic acid, present in the body’s circulation during sepsis and COVID-19, and that this DNA-binding capability triggers their removal from circulation, driving inflammation and anemia during severe illness and playing a much larger role in the immune system than previously thought. Scientists have long known that red blood cells, which are essential in delivering oxygen throughout the body, also interacted with the immune system, but didn’t know whether they directly altered inflammation, until now. The study, led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was published today in Science Translational Medicine.

Penn State College of Medicine study explores the association of malaria, HIV with anemia during pregnancy

Pregnant women from sub-Saharan Africa with malaria and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have a higher prevalence of anemia than pregnant women without infections according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. The findings may have implications for reducing the risk of death in pregnant women and preventing low birth weights and neurocognitive impairment in their children as a result of anemia.

High-altitude adaptations connected with lower risk for chronic diseases

High-altitude adaptations in the Himalayas may lower risk for some chronic diseases, according to a research team including faculty from Binghamton University, State University of New York, the University of New Mexico, and the Fudan University School of Life Sciences.

NIH announces $1 million prize competition to target global disease diagnostics

The National Institutes of Health has launched a $1 million Technology Accelerator Challenge (TAC) to spur the design and development of non-invasive, handheld, digital technologies to detect, diagnose and guide therapies for diseases with high global and public health impact. The Challenge is focused on sickle cell disease, malaria and anemia and is led by NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).