Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Vaccine Booster

How the immune response to inhaled pathogens can be activated

30 November 2020

Vaccine Booster

As you take a deep, calming breath in through your nose, countless potentially threatening foreign particles are filtered from the air before it rushes into your lungs. Our immune system constantly watches for unwanted invaders like viruses and bacteria, so how does it resist the temptation to leap into action against every one of these harmless fragments? A new study found that the protective immune cells resident in the mucus that lines our nasal passages (pictured with immune B (blue) and T (yellow) cells highlighted) are kept calm by the soothing presence of another member of the immune system: dendritic cells. However when action really is needed, different dendritic cells arrive and rally the troops. The researchers then trialled a new form of vaccine that encouraged this recruitment process, boosting the immune response and hence improving efficacy, when the global need for vaccines has never been greater.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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