The researchers at Aarhus University, Denmark have found a new insight into how immune cells recognize viruses and other foreign matter. This study helps in the production of better vaccines and the better understanding of allergies.
In the published study, the researchers studied B cells, a type of white blood cell in the immune system which protects us from harmful allergies. In addition to this, B cells are also responsible for producing antibodies that can harm the body conditions like autoimmune diseases. These are conditions in which the immune system turns against the healthy cells in our body.
How do B cells work to protect the body from infections?
Immune cells are constantly circulating through our bodies. They monitor certain substances on the surfaces of cells called Antigens. Healthy cells have different antigens than diseased cells and germs. The immune system commonly ignores the antigens on healthy cells but when they come across an antigen of a diseased cell, they destroy the cell. Earlier, it was believed that for the above-mentioned process, “the antigens or the foreign bodies would have to come across the B cells receptors on the cell surface. But now it is evident that only one blind receptor is enough to activate the B cells”, says Soren Degn, associate professor at Department of Biomedicine and senior author of the article.
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Degn said his research will lead us better our understanding of how immune cells recognize enemy cells. When this process becomes known, it will aid in the production of better vaccines with long-standing effects. Through the discovery, a copy of the mechanism of the immune system could be generated too. Secondly, as this research has helped us understand how receptors on the surface send signals inside the cells, this discovery will be helpful to both immunological and cell biology fields. Researchers have started preclinical vaccine trials to design the vaccines in a way that could help us counter autoimmune diseases too. This could be done by switching off the B cell activation.
The earlier model that was used for detecting immunity was not effective in all observations and hence the new study will help design better vaccines. The research conducted using laboratory mice and advanced microscopic examination, will break the old misconceptions of how immune cells recognize antigens such as viruses.