The work opens the door to the possibility of regulating cell development during vaccination.
SPAIN – Spanish researchers have identified a protein of the immune cells of living organisms that regulates its response to infectious agents such as the cause of the flu.
The research, conducted by experts from the Basque center CIC bioGUNE in collaboration with the University of Vermont and published in the journal Immunity, describes the role of mitochondrial protein metabolism MCJ in CD8 immune cells.
CD8 cells are responsible for killing viruses and tumors, according to a statement by CIC bioGUNE.
In the study, the researchers described how mitochondrial protein MCJ regulates metabolism of CD8 cells during different phases of their response when confronted with infections: both the activation and the generation of memory once the infectious agent has disappeared.
The work shows that there are many more memory cells when this protein appears.
Memory cells that survive once the infectious agent has disappeared are able to respond more quickly if the disease reappears as they “remember” the virus and have immediate availability to respond to aggression.
The work also opens the door to the possibility of regulating the development of these cells during vaccination, said the authors.
Controlling the amount of the protein in MCJ cells could therefore improve “theoretically” the efficiency of memory cells and thus the efficiency of vaccines that activate these cells.
The metabolism and its regulation are key in controlling cell activity. From this research, CIC bioGUNE has established a strategic partnership with the company Mitotherapeutix (USA) in order to establish metabolic control through the MCJ protein therapies.
“The goal is to develop tools for controlling the activity of MCJ that will accelerate or slow down the cell metabolism, depending on the specific needs of the condition for which you want to face and which may involve immune cells or other cell types involved in cancers or infectious diseases,” said Juan Anguita, director of the study at CIC bioGUNE.