Chinese scientists have reportedly discovered a new breakthrough that could lead to potential cures for diseases like cancer. HIV, and hepatitis B.
In a study published in the scientific journal Nature, researchers from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing detailed the discovery of a type of white blood cells that play a vital role in controlling viral replication during the onset of chronic infections, the Global Times reported.
The researchers observed that, during the onset of viral infections, the cells, dubbed CD8+ T cells, secrete a chemical called an antiviral cytokine that might be able to kill off the virus. According to Ye Lilin, a co-author of the paper, while the cells did succumb to the infection and their numbers depleted, a small portion was able to fend off the virus, indicating the effectiveness of the chemical.
Ye added that the particular subset, dubbed CXCR5+ CD8+ T cells, that survived has higher anti-viral potential than was previously thought of, which opens the door to possible therapeutic applications, including treatment for HIV, certain types of cancers, and hepatitis B.
Current chemical treatments for the above diseases have only been able to control the spread of the virus to some extent but are not able to eliminate them completely. This leaves the patient at risk for the reemergence of the disease later on.
The team also identified a specific component of the cell, the Id2/E2A as a vi9tal regulator for the production of the particular CD8+ T cells subset.
However, Ye said that there are still a lot of work to be done to fully understand the mechanism, China Daily reported. He said that they still need to find a way to stabilize and improve the effectiveness of the CXCR5+ CD8+ T subset in order to make it more viable for medical use.