In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at the School of Medicine including senior author Robert Schreiber, PhD, has brought the approach one step closer to reality.
Cancer cells’ appetite for sugar may have serious consequences for immune cell function. Scientists have shown that in low-sugar environments immune T cells start using energy-making structures known as mitochondria (highlighted in this image in yellow and orange). This switch can prevent T cells from making an inflammatory compound important for fighting cancers and some infections.
When the body makes immune T cells, it relies on a molecular channel more commonly seen in nerves and heart muscles to ensure that the powerful T cells have the right mixture of aggressiveness and restraint, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered.
After defeating an infection, the immune system creates a memory of the attacker to make it easier to eliminate in the future. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered an important component of the immune system’s strategy for preserving such immunological memories.