New Protein Discovered In T-Cells That Protects Against The Flu

Killer T-cell: image via diabetesmine.comKiller T-cell: image via diabetesmine.comResearchers have discovered a protein in some of the body's T-cells that are powerful repellents of influenza and other viruses.  It's called IFITM3, and it won't help the norovirus or the remainder of this season's upper-respiratory flus, but if it can be incorporated into a vaccine, it might ward them off in the near future.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne discovered the protein IFITM3 in the T-cells on skin and other exposed surfaces of the body.  Most T-cells reject and kill viruses before they can reproduce, but the researchers, finding a significant protector protein responsible for the rejection of viruses, the IFITM3, saw in their examination of lung surfaces that not all T-cells, the CD8 or Cytotoxic T-cells in lung tissue, contained this protein.

Learning why some T-cells express the protein and others don't is the next level of study in the quest for better immunity against viruses. “Probably (the T-cells) encounter some form of chemical signal (a cytokine, or a surface molecule) in the tissues where they lodge, which induces the expression of IFITM3," said Dr. Linda Wakim, head author of the study and member of the University of Melbourne's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  "And If we identify these chemical cues, we may be able to include them in future vaccines.”

The researchers believe that these future vaccines will be more effective and longer lasting.

The complete research article is published in the journal Nature Immunology.

sources: Nature ImmunologyMedXpress