New findings from researchers at King’s College London could lead to improved vaccinations against sexually transmitted infections.
In the study, published today in the Nature Communications, researchers have shown how skin vaccination can generate protective CD8 T-cells that are recruited to the genital tissues and could be used as a vaccination strategy for sexually transmitted infections.
Previously it was thought that vaccines ideally needed to be delivered directly to the body surface, such as female genitals, where the infection might start, so that the immune system can generate these CD8 T-cells, travel back to the vaccination site and eliminate any future virus that is encountered. However, delivering vaccines directly to the female genital tissue is neither patient-friendly nor efficient.
The newly discovered vaccination strategy marshals a platoon of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILC1) and monocytes, in the genital tissues to work together and release chemicals (chemokines) to send out a call to the CD8 T-cells generated by the vaccine to troop into the genital tissue.
The study “highlights how specialised groups of ‘innate’ immune cells in distant tissues can be harnessed to attract protective CD8 T-cells, arming the body’s frontline tissues from infection,” explained Lead author, Professor Linda Klavinskis.
She continued, “We now need to confirm these results with other types of vaccines from the one used in the study to see if a common pathway is triggered by skin vaccination. If proven, this could have a significant impact in improving the effectiveness of vaccines against sexually transmitted infections.”