Researchers have shown how a microRNA molecule known as Lethal-7 (let-7) serves as a molecular control hub to direct the function of cytotoxic T lymphocytes by putting the brakes on their cell-killing activities.

When let-7 levels are low or absent, the body’s T cells can potentially turn into “super killers,” said Dr Pobezinsky, Molecular Biologists at the University of Massachusetts.

The discovery is a significant advance in the quest to enlist the body’s own immune defences, a technique known as adaptive immunotherapy. It may more effectively attack disease-causing agents such as invasive cancer and chronic infections like HIV, he added. Details appear in the open access journal ELife.

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