TU Dresden

07.05.2020 Press Release

Stem cell immune potential featured on the cover of Cell Stem Cell

Hidden immune potential under the stem cell surface © Cell Stem Cell

The cover of the renown scientific journal Cell Stem Cell illustrates a study by the group of Prof. Michael Sieweke in the May issue of the journal. The work of Marseille artist Vincent Ringler symbolises the immune potential hidden under the surface of blood stem cells. Although on the surface gene expression appears normal after an infectious challenge, specific regions deep down in the genome of the blood stem cell remain marked, like by a buoy, to be found easily in a secondary infection.

The Sieweke group works at the interface of immunology and stem cell research. In the current study, the team uncovered a surprising property of blood stem cells: They not only ensure the continuous renewal of blood cells but play an important role in the immune response, by remembering previous infectious encounters. This "memory" enables blood stem cells to provide a rapid and more efficient immune response to new infections, while avoiding excessive inflammation. The findings should lead to new treatments of an underperforming or over-reacting immune system, and could significantly influence future vaccination strategies, including in the current Covid-19 crisis.

The significance of this work for the immunology community has been further highlighted in the May issue of Nature Reviews Immunology volume 20, pages276–277(2020) and in a preview in Cell Stem Cell.

Prof. Michael Sieweke: "It is a satisfying reward for years of hard work by my team in Marseille and Dresden, when art meets science and beauty meets insight.“


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