Booster shots offer long-term protection from viruses by prompting immune ‘memory’ to improve, an important step toward the development of more effective, longer-lasting vaccines, according to a new research study conducted by The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).

According to TSRI Professor Michael McHeyzer-Williams, senior author of the new study published on February 2 in the online edition of the journal Nature Immunology, stated that one can now see the evolution of better protection in single memory cells as they respond to the boost.

How Immune Memory Works
When a virus assaults the body, the immune system’s B cells create antibodies to bind to the virus and immobilize it. At the same time, a troop of memory B cells heads to special areas of the lymph nodes. These memory B cells will be trained to recognize even tiny amounts of the virus if it ever attacks again.

Once memory B cells arrive in the germinal centers of the lymph nodes, they are cloned, and each clone receives a random mutation to its B cell receptor (a protein that interacts with viruses). Although some of the mutations are useless, others develop into even more effective antibodies.

McHeyzer-Williams explained that one develops memory so that the next time one sees it, one clears the infection more quickly.

The Training Never Ends
In the new study, the researchers inoculated mouse models with a substance (antigen) to stimulate an immune response. Employing the flow cytometry technique, they accumulated single memory B cells four and eight days after injecting the antigen boost.

After collecting about 700 individual memory B cells from germinal centers, the team directly linked the proteins expressed, categorized the genes from the individual B cell receptors and measured 96 other genes from each single memory B cell. This approach provided a better understanding of memory B cell evolution than was previously possible.

Armed with these findings, the researchers believe that booster shots could be better designed to manipulate the memory system.

Armed with a PhD in Alternative Medicine, a graduate degree in Biotechnology, an MSc, and an MBA in Clinical Research and Clinical Pharmacology, Dr Jonathan is a certified practitioner of Alternative Medicine and is actively involved in patient education initiatives. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Outsmart Diabetes. Dr Jonathan loves to share his passion for herbs and other alternative medicinal practices with others through his writing.