April 7 (UPI) -- Researchers at Boston University Medical Center have discovered a protein that could make vaccinations more effective and protect against disease like cancer.
The team purified a protein found in the exterior membrane of the bacteria neisseria meningidis known as PorB, and were able to utilize it to create better vaccine response.
Vaccines work by increasing the amount of antibody production in a person or by stimulating cells, called cytotoxic T cells, to directly kill a foreign invader. PorB is unique in that it can do both.
"Our study deepens the general understanding of how vaccine adjuvants modulate immune responses," Dr. Lee Wetzler, professor of medicine and microbiology at Boston University Medical School, said in a press release. "The antigen formulation with PorB triggers a sequence of cellular events at the periphery and in lymphoid tissue that are critical for the establishment of protection to a broad array of infectious diseases, and maybe for other diseases like cancer."
Two experimental models were used in the study, the first model was given a vaccination with antigen and mixed PorB and the second model was given a vaccination with just an antigen.
Researchers found that the model that received the PorB had an increase in the response to the antigen resulting in an increased number of activated cells in the lymph nodes and an increase in production of cytotoxic T cells compared to the vaccine with only an antigen.
"This study has wide implications as it could not only be used to help the body identify and fight off bacterial infections, but it could also potentially help the body use its own machinery to fight off other diseases like cancer, HIV, and influenza before they have a chance to establish within the body," Wetzler said.
The study was published in Scientific Reports.