Immune response: SLAM receptors confirm their protective role against several serious diseases

Immune response: SLAM receptors confirm their protective role against several serious diseases

The Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) applauds the work of the team led by Dr. André Veillette, Director of the Molecular Oncology Research Unit, just published in Cell Reports, which represents a promising advance in understanding the mechanisms of immunity to several diseases, including viral infections and cancer.

Overview of the work
The protection against infection afforded by vaccines or previous infections is classically thought to be due to T and B lymphocytes. These cells have the capacity for "memory", i.e. to remember a previous infection or vaccination and thus protect against subsequent infections.

Over the last ten years, researchers have realized that NK (natural killer) cells are also capable of memory, and thus of protecting against infection by viruses such as cytomegalovirus and HIV, which are associated with immunodeficiency in humans. These memory NK cells also have enhanced capacity to protect against cancer. 

In this article, Dr. Veillette's group (he is also a full professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal), demonstrates that the production of memory NK cells is controlled by a group of molecules known as SLAM receptors.  Using mouse models and a mouse equivalent of the cytomegalovirus, Dr. Veillette's team demonstrated that SLAM receptors prevent the destruction of memory NK cells and enhance protection against the virus.  

This study suggests that stimulating SLAMs with drugs such as antibodies could increase the number of memory NK cells and could be useful for enhancing protection against viruses and possibly cancers.  Further work by Dr. Veillette will test this possibility.

Full article

This work is fully in line with the IRCM's major project to develop cutting-edge therapeutic applications, in close collaboration with the Université de Montréal network, in the service of life-saving therapies.

This work was made possible thanks in part to the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

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