London: Researchers have described a promising new technique that potentially could turn immune system killer T cells into more effective weapons against infections and possibly cancer.The technique involves delivering DNA into the immune system’s instructor cells. The DNA directs these cells to overproduce a specific protein that jumpstarts important killer T cells.These killer cells are typically repressed in patients who have HIV or cancer, said Jose A. Guevara-Patino, MD, PhD, senior author of the study. Guevara is an Associate Professor in the Oncology Institute of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.Guevara and colleagues reported their technique proved effective in jumpstarting defective immune systems in immuno-compromised mice and in human killer T cells taken from people with HIV.Guevara said a clinical trial in cancer patients could begin in about three years.The study involved killer cells, known as CD8 T cells, and their instructor cells, known as antigen-presenting cells. The instructor cells instruct CD8 T cells to become killer T cells to kill infected cells or cancer cells - and to remain vigilant if they reencounter pathogens or if the cancer comes back.In addition to getting instructions from the antigen-presenting cells, CD8 T cells need assistance from helper T cells to become effective killers. Without this assistance, the killer T cells can’t do their job.
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