New Immune Sequencing Technique Could Improve Vaccine Efficacy and Cancer Treatment

MIDCIRS Tcell Jiang

In a new paper published in Frontiers of Immunology graduate student Chenfeng He, Assistant Professor Jenny Jiang, and graduate student Ke-Yue Ma describe how the MIDCIRS technique can allow researchers to better understand T cells, which could lead to improved vaccines and cancer treatment.

Researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are using a new repertoire sequencing technique that detects T cell composition more accurately and with higher sensitivity than conventional methods. T cells are an essential part of the body's immune system and understanding how they are programmed to behave is important for disease treatment.

Specifically, this improved technique, called Molecular Identifier Cluster-based Immune Repertoire Sequencing (MIDCIRS), could be beneficial in assessing vaccine efficacy and treating cancer.

In a new paper published in the Frontiers of Immunology, researchers from Professor Jenny Jiang's lab describe how the MIDCIRS application can be used for T cell repertoire sequencing.

Flow cytometry remains the most conventional method for sorting and counting T and B cells. What this technology lacks, however, is the ability to give researchers information on T-cell clonality, or the composition of any particular T cell.

Because different T cells fight different types of disease, understanding T cell composition is critical. If researchers can identify which T cells work effectively against a certain virus or cancer and then gather T cells with the same composition, they may be able to more effectively treat disease. The lab's new digital counting technique, MIDCIRS, provides absolute numbers rather than relative numbers and demonstrates a higher sensitivity of the repertoire detection limit, allowing researchers to detect one specific T cell among one million other cells.

This accuracy and higher sensitivity are especially promising for future applications of MIDCIRS, which will allow researchers to determine minimal residual disease, indicating the small number of cancer cells that remain after lymphatic cancer treatment-the main cause of cancer recurrence.

The MIDCIRS method of accurately counting and identifying T-cell composition will also allow for more successful prediction of vaccine efficacy.

MIDCIRS has already been used to accurately measure antibody repertoire sequence composition in a study of how the immune system responds to malaria infection in infants and toddlers. That research was published in the Nature Communications.