Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania have found an immune system cell can "remember" a parasites attack and help the body mount a more effective defense against subsequent invasions by the same parasite.
The finding, published in the October issue of Nature Medicine, will likely aid efforts to develop a vaccine for Leishmania major, a parasite that infects approximately 12 million people worldwide, causing significant death and disfigurement. It may also help efforts to develop vaccines for other pathogens including AIDS and tuberculosis.
Scientists have known that successful recovery from Leishmania infection immunizes humans and animals against subsequent infection. But previous experiments led researchers to suspect that this immunity resulted from the presence of a very small population of parasites that remained in the host even after full recovery. Loss of this minimal parasite remnant seemed in some studies to result in loss of immunity.
Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
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