Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles say this work could be helpful in developing a vaccine
As cities across the United States are opening back up, the country is still a long way from ending the global pandemic with the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. However, in order to develop an effective vaccine, researchers need to understand how the immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Most of the vaccines in development for SARS CoV-2 are using part of the virus to provoke the immune system to produce proteins called antibodies that neutralize the virus. An alternative approach is to create protection against the virus by activating the T cells of the immune system. This is where immunotherapy researchers and UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research members Dr. Gay Crooks and Dr. Christopher Seet come in.
For years, they have been perfecting an innovative technology that uses blood-forming stem cells — which can give rise to all types of blood and immune cells — to produce a rare and powerful subset of immune cells called type 1 dendritic cells. Type 1 dendritic cells play an essential role in the immune response by devouring foreign proteins, termed antigens, from virus-infected cells and then chopping them into fragments. Dendritic cells then use these protein fragments to trigger T cells to mount an immune response.
Using this technology, Crooks and Seet are working to pinpoint which specific parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus provoke the strongest T-cell responses.Learn More