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?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- The BPA Paradox – Too Many Studies?
- 3X Saturated Fat In The Diet Doesn't Increase It In Blood
- Is Religion A Consolation Worth Having?
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Genetic Clues Of Severe Food Allergy
- GMO Labels Are Good For The $105 Billion Organic Industry - But No One Else
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- "Always loved the Heels that showed of the instep (arches) ..."
- "By the way, I am a fan of your blog. It's one of the few places I can follow physics without getting..."
- "Hello Anon,you're entirely right, it's arbitrary and it does not provide protection against cases..."
- "Henry wrote:I would not put it that way. One does not say that a complex number is anything..."
- "You'd think that the FDA, CDC, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, World..."
- Gene in kidney may play role in high blood pressure
- Panel-based genetic diagnostic testing for inherited eye disease proves highly accurate
- Research finds tooth enamel fast-track in humans
- Good news for cocaine users: Caffeine counters cocaine's effects on women's estrus cycles
- Clipping proteins that package genes may limit abnormal cell growth in tumors