New U of Texas technology identifies disease-fighting cells at high speed in high volumes

Biomedical engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have found a faster, more efficient and more reliable way to identify combinations of antigens and T cell receptors, according to a university article. 
Identifying these combinations is crucial in the development of disease vaccines and immunotherapy drugs according to the article.

The research findings are published in Nature Biotechnology.

“T cells play a central role in the human immune system, as each expresses its own unique TCRs, a kind of defense system that identifies and then destroys unwelcome pathogens and cancer cells,” said the study's lead author Jenny Jiang, an associate professor in the Cockrell School's Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Dell Medical School's Department of Oncology. “Effective vaccine and cancer immunotherapy development is contingent on understanding how TCRs behave.”

Jiang is a BMES member.

Jiang her team developed a DNA-barcoded method that categorizes thousands of TCRs and their antigens in just two days, according to the article.

Until now, the technology did not exist to link TCRs and their antigens at a single-cell level in a high-throughput manner. Researchers were previously able to identify only about 100 TCRs and their antigens at a time and had to wait up to two months for the results.

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