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Computer simulation captures immune response to flu
Date:5/18/2009

he National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"High-speed, accurate computer simulation tools are urgently needed to dissect the relative importance of each attribute of viral strains in their ability to cause disease, and the contribution of each part of the immune system in a successful counterattack," said Zand. "Real world experiments simply cannot be executed fast enough to investigate so many complex surprises, and we must keep pace with viral evolution to reduce loss of life."

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The human immune system is composed of two major branches. The innate system provides immediate protection against bacteria, viruses and other microbes. The second aspect is the more time-consuming, precise and thorough adaptive immune system pumps out vast numbers of immune cells on the hope that one will have the right receptor protein to link up with, and become activated by, any invader encountered. When this occurs, the immune cell expands into an army of clones specifically selected to attack that organism. Workhorses of the adaptive system include "killer" T cells that attack cells that have been infected by viruses before the virus can turn them into virus factories, and helper T cells that orchestrate other parts of the immune response. Both types of T cells are spurred into action by antigen-presenting cells, which engulf the invading microbes and "show" them to the T cells so that the T cells can recognize the infection. In lymph nodes, helper T cells, in turn, cause the second major player in the adaptive response, the B cell, to start mass-producing antibodies, proteins that glom onto and eliminate them from the body.

The new model predicts how rapidly the T and B cells respond to influenza type A virus infection. For the purposes of the simulation, the model set aside the role of the innate immune system, but the research
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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