Researchers from the University of Basel have made a significant breakthrough in understanding how cytotoxic T cells can fight chronic infections over extended periods. The body’s immune system relies heavily on T cells to identify and eliminate infected or abnormal cells to minimize further damage to the body. However, the question of how these cells can fight chronic infections has long remained unanswered. Led by Professor Daniel Pinschewer at the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedicine, the study’s findings could pave the way for novel therapy and vaccination strategies to fight chronic infections and enhance cancer immunotherapy.
In chronic infections, T cells work with the immune system to remove infected or abnormal cells from the body. However, a strong inflammatory response can activate T cells, causing them to enter a state of rapid activity, which enables them to eliminate infected cells in the short term. But, if all T cells behaved this way, it would break down our immune defenses rather quickly, making it difficult to fight chronic infections.