Research Suggest Similarities In Immune System Among People

Recent studies by US researchers find that the human immune system may have much more similarities than previously believed. This finding may help lead to new ways in detecting, diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases as well as cancers.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has developed a new way of sequencing millions of immune system T-cell receptors from a single sample. T-cells are known as a critical part of the immune system which functions to protect the body against new pathogens.

When the researchers used the new process to compare the immune systems of different people, they were surprised to find out the many similarities between them. According to Harlan Robins, a computational biologist and an assistant member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Hutchinson, “We found that any two people may share tens of thousands of the exact same T-cell receptor. This is contrary to previous dogma that each person has a distinct set of T-cell receptors with little or no overlap between people.”

“The strong similarity in the adaptive immune cells between different people suggests that the same disease will induce the same response in different people. The technology described in this paper can readily detect such a response, even if the magnitude of the immune reaction is small. Therefore, we potentially could use one or more of these shared T-cell responses as a diagnostic for a particular disease,” he further added.

The researchers believe that the findings may someday have positive implications when it comes to cancer and auto-immune disease research.


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