Can Cells Be Trained To Fight Viruses?

Since childhood, we have known one thing, ‘Health is Wealth.’ The stronger we are, the healthier and wealthier we will be. To be healthy, we need to have a strong immune system to fight viruses. Especially during this pandemic era, we have to make extra efforts to keep ourselves healthy and safe from viruses.  

Then the question arises on how do we develop a stronger immune system? 

By exercising, eating healthy, and avoiding junk! But these are the basics. 

With emerging technologies, scientists have found a way to train immune cells to fight viruses. Interesting right? 

Let us find out how we can train our immune cells to fight viruses and keep us healthy. 



How did all this begin?  

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) cracked the code that immune cells from the human body can be trained to respond to viruses, bacteria, and other infections aggressively. 

They noted that a molecular mechanism within macrophages is cells that fight infection in the innate immune system and are the ones that determine how well our body can fight invaders. 

Interestingly, the researchers found that innate immune cells can be trained by their past experiences to become better-fighting agents in the body against any invaders. They also found that some experiences seem better than others in fighting, which motivated them to understand the rules governing this entire process better.

This research was conducted jointly by Quen Cheng, an assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, and Alexander Hoffman, professor of microbiology and director of the Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences. 


How is Immune Training conducted for a human cell? 

While working on this, researchers found that immune training for a cell can occur if a cell’s DNA is unwrapped and a new gene is exposed, enabling the cells to respond more aggressively. The fight against any invader is slow when genes in the DNA are wrapped and only a limited part of the genesis is exposed. 

Threats in our body are identified by a precise dynamics of a key signaling molecule in macrophages called NFKB and determine if the DNA will unwrap and the genes will be exposed. An extracellular stimulus has to be introduced to the macrophages to assess the dynamic activity of the NFKB. 

Further, they also found that only some stimuli can make an innate immune cell aggressive and not all. This part is highly critical to our health because improper training may result in too much inflammation and autoimmunity, which may cause significant damages. 

Therefore, it is important to use the right stimuli and get the innate immune cells to fight the invaders aggressively. 



How was the research conducted? 

Researchers conducted this on the bone marrow of mice. They tracked how the molecule's dynamics changed in response to a particular stimulus. The princess was successful only when the stimulus-induced non-oscillating NFKB activity.

The researchers said that the results were a real breakthrough, and it helped them understand the language of the immune cells. 

They further mentioned that the training process was simulated with a mathematical model. Cheng aims at using this to study diseases caused by immune cells, strategies to improve immune training and fight infections, and how to complement existing vaccine approaches. 



With various diseases making a way in our body, studies like these can always prove helpful for us to cope up with them and help us lead a happy, healthy and wealthy life. 


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An artist by heart and a writer by profession, Prachi is a vivacious reader.  She believes in hard work and her dedication has never let her down. She puts her heart and soul in everthing she does. Though life has not been a bed of roses for her, she affirms that the best way to live it is to maintain an equillibrium between the tunes of life.  


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