New discovery on T cell behavior has major implications for cancer immunotherapy
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AURORA, Colo. (September 7, 2018) – Scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that disease-fighting T cells, elicited from vaccines, do not require glucose for their rapid reproduction, a finding with major implications for the development of immunotherapies for cancer patients.

In the study, published today in the journal Science Immunology, researchers from CU Anschutz, along with colleagues from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania, examined T cells that arose in the body’s immune system after they received a subunit vaccination – a vaccine that uses just part of a disease-causing virus.

They found that these critical white blood cells, which attack and kill infection, did not rely on glucose to fuel their rapid division which occurs every two to four hours. Instead, they used another cellular engine, the mitochondria, to support their expansion.

“The knowledge that this magnitude of cell division can be supported by mitochondrial function has a number of potential practical implications for the development of future vaccines,” said the study’s senior author Ross Kedl, PhD, professor of immunology and microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Kedl said T cells responding to infection usually depend on glucose

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