New technology developed by MIT researchers can measure how the body's T cells react to cells infected with HIV. They hope that the technology could make it easier to design and monitor vaccines capable of taking on the virus.
The MIT researchers placed individual T cells in tiny wells, and then exposed them to HIV-infected cells. They were able to determine which infected cells were dying using probes that glow when a cell's nucleus is compromised, according to an MIT report. (You can watch a video of the process here.)
Researchers then measured each T cell's interferon gamma production. "...[T]he researchers found that while the percentage of T cells that secrete interferon gamma is similar to the percentage of those that kill infected cells, the populations are not identical," MIT explained in a statement. The findings could help HIV scientists identify better markers for killing HIV-infected cells, leading to more effective vaccines.
"The appeal of this technology is that it can help us understand more about what’s going on in single cells," noted Rush Medical College professor Alan Landay in a statement. "It helps us rethink what we understand about immunology and immune function." The findings were published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.