New findings stir the coals of a hot debate in immunology regarding the origin of memory T cells. The results, published in this week's Science, suggest that memory cells are descendant from the immune system's primary infection fighters, effector cells -- a finding which clashes with the two competing theories of memory cell origin, the authors say. Understanding these cells' origin could help researchers design cell-based vaccines, such as those in development for HIV. The initial response that leads to both memory and effector T cells begins in the lymph node. According to the text-book definition of these cells, effector cells leave the lymph node, while memory cells remain there, on-call to fight a secondary attack. Until recently, immunologists believed that memory cells stemmed from the handful of effector cells that remained after the effectors cleared a pathogen from the body. These left-over effector cells would de-differentiate -- or lose...
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