‘New Rules’ of T Cells’ Unified Healing Response Discovered 

'New Rules' of T Cells' Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Getty Images
'New Rules' of T Cells' Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Getty Images

United States: The researchers from the University of Cambridge reveal that an important white blood cell called a regulatory T cell exists as a single kind, but as a large team of wandering cells constantly patrolling the body in search of damaged tissues that require attention. 

The latest finding contradicts the earlier view. 

This contradicts the prior view on the existence of multiple separate sub-populations of regulatory T cells with specialized, localized functions. 

The discovery would affect the management of all kinds of diseases because most everyday diseases and injuries involve the triggering of the immune system. 

The anti-inflammatory drugs currently in use work to reduce inflammation throughout the body, not only on the specific part requiring it. 

'New Rules' of T Cells' Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Freepik
‘New Rules’ of T Cells’ Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Freepik

The researchers explain that their study implies it becomes feasible to stop the functioning of the immune system and repair or heal whatever is incorrect in one specific area of the human body without causing any harm to the rest of the body. 

This meant that higher and more specific levels of drugs could be used to treat diseases – or with the possibility of rapid results. 

According to Professor Adrian Liston in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pathology and the senior author of the paper, “We’ve uncovered new rules of the immune system. This ‘unified healer army’ can do everything – repair injured muscle, make your fat cells respond better to insulin, and regrow hair follicles. To think that we could use it in such an enormous range of diseases is fantastic: it’s got the potential to be used for almost everything,” cam.ac.uk noted. 

How did scientists reach the discovery? 

To get to this conclusion, the researchers investigated the regulatory T cells existing in 48 tissues in the bodies of mice available. This meant they learned that cells are not fixed in one region or a specific form but are rather in constant circulation in the body seeking to locate specific places. 

'New Rules' of T Cells' Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Shutterstock
‘New Rules’ of T Cells’ Unified Healing Response Discovered. Credit | Shutterstock

The results are published here today in the Immunity journal. 

Liston said, “It’s difficult to think of a disease, injury, or infection that doesn’t involve some kind of immune response, and our finding really changes the way we could control this response.” 

“Now that we know these regulatory T cells are present everywhere in the body, in principle, we can start to make immune suppression and tissue regeneration treatments that are targeted against a single organ – a vast improvement on current treatments that are like hitting the body with a sledgehammer,” he continued. 

With a drug that the researchers have created the researchers have proved that it is possible to recruit regulatory T cells to a specific site, expand the cells there, and activate the cells to switch of the immune response and advance healing only in one organ or tissue. 

Liston added, “By boosting the number of regulatory T cells in targeted areas of the body, we can help the body do a better job of repairing itself or managing immune responses,” as reported in cam.ac.uk. 

“There are so many different diseases where we’d like to shut down an immune response and start a repair response, for example, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and even many infectious diseases,” he added. 

Almost all symptoms from viral infections like COVID are not, in fact, from the virus, but from the body’s immune response to the virus. 

After the virus has reached its peak, all the regulatory T cells should also stop the body’s immune response, and in some cases, this is just not very effective and will produce more issues. 

The new finding means it may be possible to administer a drug that would alter the immune response in the patient’s lungs so that the immune system as a whole can work quite normally in the rest of the body.