They key to the world's most common, and deadliest, diseases is the role of glucose, the sugar in our blood, and the way it interacts with our immune cells, says a research team from Trinity College Dublin.
Glucose, known as a 'simple sugar', is derived from carbohydrates, and it's vital for energy, and cell division and growth. Although some immune cells become dysfunctional if they're starved of glucose, that's not true for dendritic cells, which are the part of our immune system that monitors our body for signs of danger. When dendritic cells are starved of glucose, they stimulate the immune system's vital players, the T lymphocytes, which directly fight cancers and inflammatory diseases such as heart problems and arthritis.
This breakthrough discovery opens the way for new therapeutic approaches to these killer diseases, the researchers say.
"The discovery that T cells and dendritic cells compete with each other for glucose offers a new and exciting insight into how glucose can regulate dendritic cell function," said lead researcher David Finlay.