Discovery of a new class of white blood cells uncovers target for better vaccine design

July 17, 2013
Discovery of a New Class of White Blood Cells Uncovers Target for Better Vaccine Design
Fluorescence microscopy reveals the newly discovered CD11b+ dendritic cells (green) amongst other white blood cells (orange and red) in the lung tissue. Credit: Peter See, A*STAR SIgN

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) have discovered a new class of white blood cells in human lung and gut tissues that play a critical role as the first line of defence against harmful fungal and bacterial infections. This research will have significant impact on the design of vaccines and targeted immunotherapies for diseases caused by infectious microbes such as the hospital-acquired pneumonia.

The scientists also showed for the first time that key immune functions of this new class of white blood cells are similar to those found in mice. This means that findings in the mouse studies can be applied to develop advanced clinical therapies for the . The study done in collaboration with Newcastle University was published in the prestigious Immunity journal.

New Class of White Blood Cell Discovered

All immune responses against infectious agents are activated and regulated by (DCs), a specialised group of which present tiny fragments from micro-organisms, vaccines or tumours to the T cells. T cells are that circulate around our bodies to scan for cellular abnormalities and infections. Of the different T cells, T helper 17 (Th17) cells specialise in activating a protective response crucial for our body to eliminate or fungi.

In this study, the scientists identified a new subset of DCs (named CD11b+ DCs), which are capable of activating such protective Th17 response. They also showed that mice lacking the CD11b+ DCs were unable to induce the protective Th17 response against the Aspergillus fumigatus, one of the most common fungal species in hospital-acquired infections.

The team leader, Dr Florent Ginhoux from SIgN said, "As dendritic cells have the unique ability to 'sense' the type of pathogen present in order to activate the appropriate immune response, they are attractive targets to explore for vaccine development. This discovery revealed fresh inroads to better exploit dendritic cells for improved vaccine design against life-threatening fungal infections."

Acting Executive Director of SIgN, Associate Professor Laurent Rénia said, "Life-threatening fungal infections have increased over the years yet treatment options remain limited. This study demonstrates how fundamental research that deepens our understanding of the body's immune system can translate into potential clinical applications that could save lives and impact healthcare."

More information: www.cell.com/immunity/fulltext/S1074-7613(13)00205-7?switch=standard

Related Stories

Skin sentry cells promote distinct immune responses

July 21, 2011

A new study reveals that just as different soldiers in the field have different jobs, subsets of a type of immune cell that polices the barriers of the body can promote unique and opposite immune responses against the same ...

Jump-starting cheaper cancer vaccines

September 26, 2012

Dendritic cells (DCs)—workhorses of the immune system—derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) may provide an economical way of generating off-the-shelf therapeutic vaccines against cancers, according to research ...

Recommended for you

A cheaper, high-performance prosthetic knee

July 30, 2015

In the last two decades, prosthetic limb technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the most advanced prostheses incorporate microprocessors that work with onboard gyroscopes, accelerometers, and hydraulics to enable ...

Crystal clear images uncover secrets of hormone receptors

July 31, 2015

Many hormones and neurotransmitters work by binding to receptors on a cell's exterior surface. This activates receptors causing them to twist, turn and spark chemical reactions inside cells. NIH scientists used atomic level ...

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

July 27, 2015

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.