New Burnet Institute research has identified a new way for generating immunological memory, which could help the development of more effective vaccines and therapeutics in the future.
Immunological memory is the immune system’s ability to ‘remember’ infectious agents such as viruses and microbes', enabling the immune system to fight those cells.
For example, someone who has measles as a child, immunological memory develops to protect that person from contracting measles again.
Lead researcher Dr Raffi Gugasyan from Burnet’s Centre for Immunology says while this discovery is significant, further research is required to understand how these cells are produced.
“These findings have a lot of merit - potentially, this could provide a rapid first line of defence against viruses in newborns and infants that lack a fully efficient immune system,” Dr Gugasyan said.
“As well as having implications of having a broader understanding for vaccine development, this research could be important for diagnostics in the future for identifying people at risk of certain diseases.”
Specifically, Dr Gugasyan’s study identified a protein (known as NF?B1), which impacts the development and function of CD8 T-cells (the cells responsible for providing the immune system with ‘memory’ against viruses).
“Intriguingly, when these T-cells lack NF?B1, they display markers associated with immunological memory and when challenged they function rapidly like memory cells to counter the challenge,” he explained.
Dr Gugasyan presented this research on behalf of his national and international colleagues at the Lorne Infection and Immunity Conference.
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