Immune cell ‘defenders’ could beat invading bacteria, Monash University

An international team of scientists has identified the precise
biochemical key that wakes up the body’s immune cells and sends them
into action against invading bacteria and fungi.
The patented work, published in Nature today, provides the starting point to understanding our first line of defence, and what happens when it goes wrong. It will lead to new ways
of diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and
even TB. It could also lead to new protective vaccines.
The discovery, the result of an international collaboration between
Monash University and the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland and
Cork, builds on work by Australian researchers last year who proved that
a group of immune cells called MAITs, which line the gut, lungs and
mouth, act as defenders against bacteria. Making up to 10 per cent of
T-cells, which are essential to the immune system, mucosal-associated
invariant T (MAITs) initiate the immune system’s action against foreign
invaders when they are exposed to vitamin B2, which is made by bacteria
and fungi.

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