-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, June 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New insight into
infants' immune systems could lead to improvements in vaccines that
would better protect youngsters from infectious diseases,
Compared to adults, infants' immune systems respond faster and
more aggressively, but the protection they create lasts only a
short time. This leaves infants more susceptible to infections,
according to the Cornell University team.
"The perfect vaccine would be a single dose given at birth that generates long-lasting immunity," study author Brian Rudd, an immunologist in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a Cornell news release.
"No such vaccine exists because we haven't understood why infants rapidly lose immunities. Our finding could change the way we immunize infants and ultimately lead to more effective ways of enhancing immunity in early life," he explained.
The immune system produces "T-cells" to attack infection-causing
germs. In adults, the immune system retains some of these T-cells
in a memory pool so that they can mount a rapid response if the
same germ infects the body again.
However, newborn immune systems do not form these "memory
T-cells," according to the study published recently in the
Journal of Immunology.
"So the immune system is forced to start the learning process over again when infected by the same [germ] later in life," Rudd said in the news release.
"We hope to find a way to make neonatal cells behave more like adult cells in how they learn from vaccines and respond to infection," he added. "Knowledge gained from these studies could be used to design more effective therapeutic interventions and vaccines that can be safely administered in early life."
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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