Two to fight

Immunologists identify biochemical signals that help immune cells remember how to fight infection:
[Via Eureka! Science News – Popular science news]

Immunology researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered how two biochemical signals play unique roles in promoting the development of a group of immune cells employed as tactical assassins. In their initial response, these immune cells, known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes, or CTLs, kill cells infected with pathogens. They also provide long-term protection against pathogens by “remembering” which proteins the pathogen makes. Targeting the ability of these CTLs to remember the pathogen is one way vaccines protect against infection.

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The two molecules involved, IL-12 and interferon alpha, are involved in a wide range of immune responses. Delineating their effects, not only on CTLs and memory cells but also other immune cell types, will help create better vaccines.

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