Investigators from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have conducted studies in mice to gain a new picture of how the immune systems "killer" T cells are prompted to destroy infected cells. Their insights provide a blueprint for rational design of vaccines that induce desired T-cell responses.
The findings are published in this weeks Science. "If we are correct, what weve found will put rational vaccine design on a firmer footing," says Jonathan Yewdell, M.D., Ph.D., who led the NIAID team.
T cells belong to the cellular arm of the immune systems two-pronged defense mechanism against foreign invaders--the other arm features blood-borne antibodies. Historically, vaccines aimed to stimulate antibody production in a bid to prevent specific diseases. More recently, scientists have begun to manipulate T cells to create vaccines effective against pathogens that antibodies alone cannot control. Such T-cell-inducing vaccines are being tested against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis and are being studied as treatments for certain cancers.
Anne A. Oplinger | EurekAlert!
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