Last updated on December 8th, 2022 at 02:44 pm
Basel researchers have discovered a group of immune system helper cells in mice that colonize the lungs over the long term after infection.
These support the immune system in the fight against re-infection with a mutated flu virus. Vaccines against the flu must be adapted every year to the currently circulating influenza strains. The research team led by biomedical scientist Carolyn King has now identified two types of specific immune cells in the lungs of mice that remain in the tissue long after they have been infected with the influenza virus.
These so-called T-helper cells stand in wait to support the immune system quickly and efficiently in the event of a new infection with a slightly modified flu virus. “These T-helper cells could be an interesting starting point for longer-lasting flu vaccinations,” said David Schreiner from the University of Basel, according to a statement from the university.
The same mechanisms for other respiratory pathogens
The two types of memory cells take on different tasks, as the researchers report in the journal “Science Immunology”: One type releases signalling substances in the event of a renewed infection in order to give other immune cells more deadly weapons in the fight against the pathogen wrote the University of Basel. The other type supports antibody-producing B cells.
Vaccines with active ingredients that support the formation of these special T helper cells could improve the defence against mutating influenza viruses, according to the researchers. But more research is needed for this.
They discovered mechanisms of the immune system are also likely to apply to renewed infections with other pathogens of respiratory diseases.