A relatively unknown molecule that regulates metabolism could be the key to boosting an individual’s immunity to the flu – and potentially other viruses – according to research reported today in the journal Immunity.
The study, led by University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine doctoral student Devin Champagne and Mercedes Rincon, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and an immunobiologist, discovered that a protein called methylation controlled J – or MCJ – can be altered to boost the immune system’s response to the flu.
Metabolism is a crucial function that helps keep cells alive. It plays a role in a range of bodily processes – from the conversion of food into energy to the ability to fight off infection. MCJ is the part of the cell that produces energy and enables metabolism.
“It’s the engine of the cell,” says Rincon, who adds that previously, researchers assumed that the mitochondria were constantly active.