Immune response 'off switch' discovered by researchers

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A biological "off switch" for human immune responses has been discovered by scientists, which could be instrumental in the development of future vaccines.

Research from Trinity College Dublin has found a natural protein called TMED7 that is responsible for deactivating parts of the immune system when the body has eliminated an infection.

Though this protein is essential for ensuring the immune system does not cause harm to the body through an overly aggressive response to infection, it is thought that manipulating TMED7 levels could offer several benefits.

For example, diseases that are caused by over-activation of immune responses - such as septic shock - could be combated by boosting TMED7, while the opposite process could aid the creation of vaccines.

Dr Sarah Doyle, lead author on the report, said: "Removing TMED7 from our cells could help boost our immune response to vaccines, thus making the vaccines much more effective."

This week, researchers from Princeton University published a new study showing the potentially widespread benefits that could be offered by a new class of "universal" influenza vaccines covering a wide range of disease strains, which are being developed by research teams across the world.

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