For the first time in history, the scientists from the Human Vaccines Project, headed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, sequenced the human immune system which is by billions of time more extensive than the human genome. More specifically, the researchers sequenced an essential part of this mysterious system, the genes encoding the circulating B cell receptor repertoire, as the scientists reported on the MedicalXPress portal.
The researchers found several overlaps in the human immune system sequencing in both infants and adults, which might pave the way to new antibody targets for vaccines and therapies.
“A continuing challenge in the human immunology and vaccine development fields has been that we do not have comprehensive reference data for what the normal healthy human immune system looks like. Prior to the current era, people assumed it would be impossible to do such a project because the immune system is theoretically so large, but this new paper shows it is possible to define a large portion because the size of each person’s B cell receptor repertoire is unexpectedly small,” explained James E. Crowe, Jr., MD, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Scientists Sequenced The Human Immune System For The First Time In History
The circulating B cell receptors play a crucial role in the production of antibodies. These receptors are the leading determinant of immunity in humans. The scientists carried out leukapheresis on three adult subjects and managed to sequence 40 billion cells to reveal the combinations of genes that contain the circulating B cell receptors.
“The overlap in antibody sequences between individuals was unexpectedly high, even showing some identical antibody sequences between adults and babies at the time of birth,” Crowe added.
“Due to recent technological advances, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to harness the power of the human immune system to transform human health fundamentally. Decoding the human immune system is central to tackling the global challenges of infectious and non-communicable diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s to pandemic influenza. This study marks a key step toward understanding how the human immune system works,” also said Wayne Koff, the CEO of the Human Vaccines Project.