T-cells, also called T lymphocytes, are a type of leukocytes or white blood cells that are an essential part of the body's immune system. According to Britannica, these cells are one of the two types of lymphocytes, with Be-cells being the other type that determines the specificity of the immune response against the antigens in the body.

For this reason, scientists have focused on studying T-cells during the COVID-19 pandemic as they look for ways to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and in the development of vaccines.

Now, scientists at Cardiff University have discovered a new way of fine-tuning the immune system at the level of T-cells to produce a better response against antigens.

 Immune System Could Be Fine-Tuned at the T-Cell Level to Produce Better Immune Response
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Cartoon representation of the molecular structure of protein registered with 1q68 code.

Improving the Immune System at the Level of T-Cells

The study, titled "CD8 coreceptor-mediated focusing can reorder the agonist hierarchy of peptide ligands recognized via the T cell receptor" published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that the immune system can be adjusted at the level of individual T-cells to produce a more efficient immune response but also while avoiding autoimmunity.

"We have all seen how vital vaccines are in the fight against COVID-19-our work could help in efforts to create the most effective possible T-cell-mediated vaccine which offers just the right strength of immune response; not too weak that it is rendered ineffective but also not too strong that it hurts the body, lead author Dr. Matthew Clement said in Cardiff University's news release.

The scientists in the study highlight the role of the protein called CD8, a T-cell coreceptor that is essential for controlling an effective immune response against bacteria and viruses. The team targets to improve immune response against various pathogens and viruses via the CD8 while avoiding any damage to the host.

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Avoiding Autoimmunity

The team describes in the study a solution to improving immune response by not damaging the host in the process, Medical Xpress reported. The team showed how CD8 could allow an individual T-cell to focus on specific targets without triggering an autoimmune response from the immune system.

According to Dr. Hugo van den Berg, a senior author on the study from Warwick University's Mathematics Institute, the data in their study showed a phenomenon that is only predicted in mathematical models for the first time.

They modified CD8 and used different target diseases while monitoring the immune responses being produced in the experiment. Fine-tuning individual T-cells involve tinkering with the CD8 receptor to produce specific immune response against different disease targets without altering the integrity of the receptor.

"Our study suggests that the immune system can be specifically adjusted to operate at the level of individual T-cells to allow the T-cell to do its job and kill invading pathogens while safeguarding the host in the face of an ongoing immune response," said Dr. Clement in the news release.

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