Mathematical models can now help us understand how immune cells in a body respond to infection and disease, according to a study published in the journal, Science. The researchers used mathematics and computer modelling to understand how complex signaling impacts the size of the response by key infection-fighting immune cells called T cells.
Julia Marchingo from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia states that, for the first time, we are able to predict the size of an immune response, such as the response to flu virus, based on the sum of the signals received by the flu-responsive T cells. T cells are important for launching specific immune responses against invading microbes, as well as eliminating some cancer cells.
Marchingo added that the team combined laboratory data with mathematical models to clarify how different external signals impact T cell proliferation. According to co-lead researcher Susanne Heinzel, research provides clarity about how these anti-cancer immune responses could be enhanced to develop new, and improve existing cancer treatments.