BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: T-cell

Why is SARS-CoV-2 able to evade our immune system?

On December 1st, 2022,  Nature Immunology published an article based on discoveries, founded by University of Birmingham researchers, regarding why SARS-CoV-2 still continues to invade our bodies and harm our immune systems!

Structural model of SARS-CoV-2 infection - Oo 422117

In an experiment funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Researcher, CD4+ T cells (which are a necessity for our immune systems to protect from viruses) were tested at the beginning of the pandemic in healthcare workers that were infected with COVID- 19. This experiment determined that T-cells were successfully able to identify epitopes in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 but as SARS-CoV-2 continued to  evolve and mutate, the T-cell recognition was impaired. Against certain variants of SARS-CoV-2 such as Omicron, it was shown through this experiment that the T-cell recognition was less effective against the Omicron variant. Due to SAR-CoV-2 constant mutation affecting the role of our T- cells, this causes a lack of protection from our immune system which effects our health. This relates to biology class where we have been learning about how our immune systems can fight and prevent viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. We have discussed the central roles of T- cells and how “helper T- cells” recognize antigens and stimulate humoral and cell mediated immunity by releasing cytokines. Learning about how vital T- cells are to our bodies while fighting off viruses makes me understand why after 3 years we are still being affected by SARS-CoV-2 virus!  This is also interesting to understand why certain variants of SARS-CoV-2 can be more detrimental to our health than other variants.

Healthy Human T Cell

This study also makes it clear that while the current vaccines are still essential to protect us from COVID-19, researchers are continuing to develop new vaccines that are specific to other variants.



 

Engineering Cancer Killers!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:ArturoJuárezFlores

Engineering Cancer Killers!                                                                                               

Today, millions of people are dying from the complex disease, cancer. Although treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are used to cure the disease, immunotherapy has emerged as a potential cure for cancer. Professor Oliver Ottmann, Head of Haematology at Cardiff University and co-lead of the Cardiff Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC), acknowledged the importance of immunotherapy and considers it a huge breakthrough in cancer research and treatment. This lead his team to further discover the key to genetically engineering T-cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. 

How Does It Work?

T-cells are an important part of our immune systems. They contain receptors that can recognize bacterial infections or viruses and help fight them off, and potentially kill cancer cells. Scientists have developed a way to genetically engineer T-cells using CRISPR genome editing. Normally, the genetically engineered T-cells, that are created to fight cancer, contain two types of receptors. One type is called therapeutic, and is created and added on to the cell in a lab, and the other types of receptors are natural and originated from the T-cell.

The Problem 

The team acknowledged that since both kinds of receptors occupy the cell, there is minimal space for all receptors to fit on the cell; therefore certain receptors must challenge other receptors in order to perform their own function. Since there are more natural receptors on a T-cell than the therapeutic receptors,the natural receptors perform superior than the therapeutic receptors. This means the genetically engineered T-cells are not able to work at their full potential; they are unable to kill cancer cells efficiently.

The Solution

After recognizing the problem, Professor Oliver Ottmann and his team genetically engineered T-cells, by genome editing, that only contain the therapeutic receptors they intended on adding. By eliminating all of the natural receptors that T-cells normally have, the therapeutic receptors will increase in efficiency.

The Future

Since scientists have figured out a way to maximize the efficiency of genetically engineered cancer fighting T-cells, finding a cure to cancer could be closer than we thought. Could this cutting edge research be the start of a solution for cancer treatment?  Do you think scientists and society will pursue this theory? This article sparked my interest because finding a reliable cure for cancer has been a problem for many years, every discovery we make brings us closer to finding the best cure.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar