Researchers Find New Methods to Understand and Boost Immune System

Recently, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology developed two new methods for quick determination of T cell targets. T cells are an essential component of the human immune system as each T cell specializes in recognizing a particular intruder. This includes Salmonella or Influenza virus. Determining a particular T cell’s target is a very critical step in creating vaccines and developing personalized treatments for cancer.

A Brief Description of Two New Methods

Guideng Li and Alok Joglekar postdoctoral scholars led the research with other researchers. Scientists, in the first method attached proteins known as signaling domains against MHCs (major histocompatibility complexes). In this, signaling an antigen-presenting bifunctional receptor (SABR) is created to send a signal into the cell to make it glow. This happens once a corresponding T cell has bound it. Following it, a researcher can then take numerous types of antigens; each presented by a SABR and merge them with a particular T cell. Now, the cells presenting the right antigen will glow green helping researchers remove the antigen (T cell’s target).

In the second method, it takes advantage of the natural phenomenon termed as trogocytosis. This occurs when the target cell and T cell combines and exchange proteins that are bound to their surface. However, researchers haven’t determined the cause of trogocytosis, thus, the Baltimore laboratory agreed to use this phenomenon to indicate T-cell targets.

To achieve this, the researchers made a group of antigen-presenting cells wherein each cell displayed a unique antigen. After that, it was exposed to T cells with a receptor of interest. When these targets are recognized, the T cells can be used to boost the patient’s own immune system in numerous ways to help in fighting cancer.

Author: Rohit Bhisey

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