A protein found on the surface of immune cells called dendritic cells recognizes dangerous damage and trauma that could signify infection. Dendritic cells are critical for raising the alarm about the presence of foreign invaders in the body such as viruses, bacteria and parasites as well as tumor cells and other dead or damaged cells. Also known as antigen-presenting cells, they digest and present molecules from damaged cells to other immune cells that recognize foreign invaders and launch an immune response.
This discovery of how a vital immune cell recognizes dead and damaged body cells could modernize vaccine technology by 'tricking' cells into launching an immune response, leading to next-generation vaccines that are more specific, more effective and have fewer side-effects because the immune system has evolved a very clever way of detecting damaged and dead cells to help promote an immune response.
"Dr Irina Caminschi and I previously identified a protein called Clec9A (C-type lectin domain family 9A) that sits on the surface of specialised types of dendritic cells and responds to damaged and dying cells," said Dr Mireille Lahoud. "In this study we discovered that Clec9A recognises and binds to fibres of actin, internal cell proteins that are found in all cells of the body. Actin is only exposed when the cell membrane is damaged or destroyed, so it is an excellent way of finding cells that could harbour potentially dangerous infections and exposing them to the immune system."
Shortman said that exploiting Clec9A could be used to generate a new, more modern class of vaccines that are more effective and have fewer side-effects. "The Clec9A protein is one of the best targets currently known for improving immune responses," he said. "By creating vaccines that bind to Clec9A, we can trick dendritic cells to think they have encountered a damaged cell and help to launch an immune response to the infectious agent of our choice."
Shortman said targeting Clec9A could decrease the amount of vaccine needed by 100 to 1000 times. "Traditional vaccine technology for generating immunity, such as using inactivated whole viruses or parasites for immune recognition, requires large amounts of vaccine in the hopes it will encounter the correct immune cells, and incorporates other substances (adjuvants) that are needed to signal to the immune system that something foreign is happening. We are proposing a new type of vaccine that we know will head directly to the right cell to help stimulate an immune response, and doesn't cause the same side-effects because it is more specific," Professor Shortman said.
Lahoud said that the finding could develop or increase the efficacy of vaccines for diseases that do not currently have good preventive options, such as malaria, or HIV. "There is also the possibility that the system could be used to develop therapeutic vaccines for treating diseases, such as some forms of cancer, as well as for preventing them," she said.
Published in Immunity.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Great Earthquakes Doubled In The Most Recent 10 Year Period - What That Means
- What Americans Fear Most Isn't Ebola Or Terrorism, It's...
- Why Climate 'Uncertainty' Is No Excuse For Doing Nothing
- ECFA Workshop: Planning For The High Luminosity LHC
- Moderate Pot Use By Adolescents Doesn't Hurt IQ
- Cosmic Rays Jeopardize Deep-Space Astronaut Missions
- Dams Are Not The Smart Way To Secure Water For Agriculture
- "Nah. It's not free for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Apple products usually don't play nice with..."
- "http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/HPV/index.html says no interesting difference in side..."
- "Tommaso, I fully agree with you that for the moment it would be unwise and unjustified to committ..."
- "Chaos, thanks, I couldn't come up with the word. Well, sure. The article really didn't work to..."
- "So many decisions seem to be made by ISEBYs — in someone else’s back yard. ..."
- Beyond universal donors, some poeple are programed with no blood type at all
- Anti-conventional ag movement spurs Big Ag to look to organic pesticides
- Can people really inherit memories?
- An end to fat shaming? The 50 year DNA mystery of metabolic dysfunction may soon be solved
- Egg freezing: a smart career move?
- Women carry fetal DNA long after children’s birth
- Early palliative care can cut hospital readmissions for cancer patients
- Criminologists try to solve murder mystery: Who will become a killer?
- Researchers record sight neurons in jumping spider brain
- Research suggests team-based care is most effective way to control hypertension
- UNC scientists discover hidden subpopulation of melanoma cells