How the 'Iron Man' of immune cells helps T cells fight infection

Medical Xpress | February 19, 2019

The immune system's killer T cells are crucial in fighting viral infections. A fraction of them, called 'memory cells', live on once infection is controlled in order to fight re-infection by the same virus. They are of great interest as the basis of T cell-based vaccination and immunotherapies. Now, a study by Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) scientists has revealed the mechanisms by which other immune system cells, called 'helper T cells', are able to provide the support needed to keep memory cells functioning optimally. The findings were published today in the journal PNAS.
Professor Stephen Turner said that while it has been known for some time that immunological memory for many types of infection can't be established without CD4 or helper T cells, it was not known exactly what they did. "The adaptive immune system's a bit like the Avengers," Professor Turner said. "You have team members who work by themselves, but it's only when they get together that they actually make the best movies!" he said.

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