University of Dundee

How do killers kill? Cantrell and Lamond Lab collaboration sheds new light on body’s infection and cancer defences

10 Nov 2015

Researchers at the University of Dundee have shed new light on the operations of a population of our white bloods cells which play a vital role in killing infected or tumorous cells and fighting infection and diseases like cancer.
Cytotoxic T cells are a type of white blood cell found in the human body. They are known to be a strong part of our cellular defences but exactly how they work is not fully understood.
Now a collaboration between the research groups of Professor Doreen Cantrell and Professor Angus Lamond at the University of Dundee has started to unveil how cytotoxic T cells operate.
Using innovative proteomics technology developed in the Life Sciences Discovery Centre at Dundee, the researchers have been able to count accurately the many thousands of proteins that make up a cytotoxic T cell.
“This work gives new understanding of how these important cells are able to ‘execute’ virus infected cells and tumour cells,” said Professor Cantrell. “The work also showcases how proteomics technology can systematically analyse the actions of immunosuppressive drugs on cytotoxic T cells.”
Professor Lamond added, “It is increasingly recognised that genetic engineering of cytotoxic T cells has enormous potential for immunotherapy to treat cancer and chronic virus infections. This research provides an understanding of what makes a cytotoxic T cell function, which will help us in finding ways to more systematically engineer the behaviour of these important cells.”
The results of the research project have been published in the journal Nature Immunology. The research has been supported by the Wellcome Trust.