Salk Professor Susan Kaech examined the immune cells in the lungs, a significant site of damage during the COVID-19 infection. When we are first exposed to bacteria or viruses, immune cells called killer T cells destroy the infected cells to prevent the spread of the disease. Killer T cells effectively provide long-term protective immunity against the invader, a fundamental concept behind vaccination. Kaech’s team, including first author and then-graduate student Jun Siong Low, found that the cells responsible for long-term immunity in the lungs can be activated more easily than previously thought. The insight could aid in the development of universal vaccines for influenza and the novel coronavirus.
Immune System Biology
Salk scientists discover genetic “dial” to turn immune function up and down to target cancer, autoimmune disease
Associate Professor Ye Zheng, Assistant Professor Diana Hargreaves, co-first authors Jovylyn Gatchalian and Eric Chin-San Loo, and colleagues discovered a way to control regulatory T cells, immune cells that act as a cease-fire signal, telling the immune system when to stand down. Being able to increase or decrease regulatory T cell activity could one day help treat numerous diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and even some cancers.Read News Release
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