New research on immune cells and detection of infections and cancers

The research findings from the Doherty Institute, Dept of Microbiology, have potential for contributing to improved immunotherapy treatments for people with infections and cancer.

Researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), Department of Microbiology & Immunology have determined the molecular basis for how an important component of the immune system, called gamma-delta T cells, detects infections and cancers.

Published in Science Magazine last week, the research team says this breakthrough of discovering how gamma-delta T cells become activated addresses a question that has baffled scientists for 25 years.

The study was conducted by Marc Rigau, PhD student in the Doherty Institute, and co-led by Dr Adam Uldrich, Senior Research Fellow, Doherty Institute, Professor Dale Godfrey, Head of the Godfrey Laboratory, Dept of Microbiology, and Dr Andreas Behren, Laboratory Head from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.

Dr Uldrich explained that gamma-delta T cells are known to respond to the presence of small molecules, known as phosphoantigens, that are produced by bacteria and cancer cells.

“This leads to the activation of these gamma-delta T cells and often eradication of the diseased cells,” he said.

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Article originally published  by the Doherty Institute on 10 January 2020.