Science/Tech

New Type of White Blood Cells Discovered

A new type of white blood cell has been discovered and researchers believe that this could be a potential target for vaccines against cancer and other diseases.

The new white blood cells jumpstart the immune response to eliminate the foreign agent in the body, researchers said.

"These are the cells we need to be targeting for anti-cancer vaccines. Our discovery offers an accessible, easily targetable system which makes the most of the natural ability of the cell," said Dr. Muzlifah Haniffa, senior clinical lecturer at Newcastle University and one of the authors of the study.

The researchers described a human dendritic tissue that can start an immune response without being infected themselves.

Usually other types of dendritic cells begin an immune response when the pathogen infects them. Dendritic cells present a molecule from the foreign agent to other white blood cells that then use the information to kill the invader.

The study can help in designing better vaccines against diseases like hepatitis B, according to Newcastle University press release.

For the study, researchers isolated dendritic cells from human skin and blood and from lung and liver of mouse. They used genetic expression analysis to find out subsets of dendritic cells in humans and then matched these against those isolated from mouse.

Researchers say that this will make translating findings from mouse-based studies to human-based studies easier.

"The cross-species map is in effect a Rosetta stone that deciphers the language of mouse into human", explained Matthew Collin, Professor of Haematology from Newcastle University.

They have determined that certain aspects of immune systems are same across species and have created a map that will make matching results on immune system studies easier.

"These gene signatures are available in a public repository accessible for all researchers to benefit from the data.  It will allow detailed knowledge of individual human dendritic cell subsets to enable specific targeting of these cells for therapeutic strategy," Dr. Haniffa added.

The study is published in the journal Immunity.

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