T CELL immune response can be measured by an innovative technique developed by researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Lübeck, Germany. The method is far simpler, more versatile, and more reliable than current ways of measuring the T-cell response and could quickly be used routinely in the basic research and clinical settings.
The response of T-cells is understood to be crucial to how the body combats many infections or cancer, and many new cancer immunotherapies are based around a T cell response that identifies and kills abnormal body cells. Current methods to test the T cell response are however complicated and time-consuming, which limits their use in research and in the clinic.
The new technique can assess the T cell immune response shortly after blood is drawn. It works by recognising antigen-specific T lymphocytes very quickly by identifying structural changes of integrins, a molecule expressed on the T cell surface. The team were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method looking at sleep for fighting chronic infection in the form of the cytomegalovirus, and enhancing the efficiency of vaccination, in the form of the yellow fever virus.
“This could be a game-changing method,” commented first author Dr Stoyan Dimitrov, University of Tübingen. “Our method could rapidly replace the techniques in use for measuring functional T cells. It is much faster and easier to perform and does not require sophisticated reagents.”
The team believe their creation could lead to T-cell mediated immunity being widely assessed for a number of infections in which T lymphocytes play a key role, including malaria, HIV, herpes, and hepatitis. Currently, only tuberculosis is routinely assessed for this.
Additionally, they hope the technique will ultimately improve testing of the efficacy of new cancer immunotherapies. Dr Cécile Gouttefangeas, University of Tübingen, added: “It is also suitable for faster and accurate monitoring of T cell immune responses in cancer patients, as well as to test the efficacy of novel immunotherapies such as experimental cancer vaccines or so-called checkpoint inhibitors.”
James Coker, Reporter
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