Immune hematology

The researches find that the new study shows that better T cell detection is now possible using revolutionary technology. T cells are a type of lymphocyte, which in turn belongs to the diverse family of immune cells. They take part in cancer fighting as well as in most other immune responses. Recent studies have demonstrated that understanding and characterizing the T cell types that play a role in recognizing cancer cells; is important in creating individualized therapies for cancer patients.

Diverse family of immune cells

The study comes from DTU Health Technology and Jacobs University; of Bremen, and is publish in the journal Science Immunology T lymphocytes, or T cells as they are commonly call have the ability to pick out both virus-infect cells and cancer cells; and then destroy them. Their capabilities are therefore crucial in the immune response to viral infections and tumors. When immunotherapy is use to treat some cancers; the aim is to stimulate the T cells in the patient’s circulation that are specific to the tumor.

These tumor-specific T cells must be identify and their count monitor to find out how well the treatment is working. This identification is carried out by a molecular dye, called an MHC tetramer. This colored compound allows scientists to visualize the T cells specific for the tumor in question; and to count them, either in microscopic fields or using a flow cytometer which allows for high-throughput assessments. The MHC proteins have been know for a long time. These help immune cells to recognize specific antigens that denote viral infection or cancer.

T cells specific for the tumor

This is because of a site called the peptide-binding cleft which is responsible for attaching a particular tumor or viral peptide on the surface of the affect cell. The MHC-peptide complex is then easily identified by one specific clone of T cells; facilitating the elimination of that infect or cancerous cell. The attached peptide is what stabilizes the MHC molecule, and without it the molecule is intrinsically unstable. It is the presence of the specific MHC-peptide complex that is important for the activation of specific T cells as well.

These MHC-peptide complexes are common to all natural MHC proteins. However, until now, stable empty MHC tetramers were not available, since the empty (‘non peptide-loaded’) MHC molecule is too quickly degraded to synthesize in the laboratory to any meaningful extent, even when stored in the cold. The only way out until now was to engage a commercial manufacturer for the process of production, which consumed from four to six weeks.