According to a new study, deleting two key molecules can give immune cells a boost in the fight against cancer and infections such as HIV. 

In the first stage of the fight against pathogens or foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses, some immune cells go into "effector cell" mode. As effector cells, they multiply very quickly and march rapidly to the site of the damage. However, as soon as they kill off the infected cells they die. This way, the immune system avoids the situation in which overzealous immune cells start attacking your own body.

The study team, led by Shomyseh Sanjabi suspected that two molecules, called Sprouty (Spry) 1 and Spry 2, would affect this transformation. The researchers revealed that when the Sprouty molecules were removed, more effector cells survived. Not only that, but these remaining cells were stronger and better able to protect against pathogens than normal.

"Our findings," says the research team leader, "could provide an opportunity to improve future engineering of CAR T cells against tumors. This could potentially be used in combination with a genome-editing technique like CRISPR that would remove the Sprouty 1 and 2 molecules from the cells to make them more effective."

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