Cardiff University scientists have discovered a new molecule that could help better target the body’s natural fight against common infections such as the flu.

Published Thursday January 21st, 2016 in the journal Cell Reports, a team from Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute identify a molecule in the body — known as L-selectin — which directs the body’s killer T cells to the site of a virus.

By manipulating this ‘homing molecule’ the team are planning on increasing the number of killer T cells at a site of infection and so boost the killing of viruses.

“We already know white blood cells — or specifically, a subset known as T lymphocytes — provide us with a natural defence against viruses,” said Dr Ann Ager, who led the research.

“When a virus enters the body the T lymphocytes are turned into killer T cells before they are despatched to fight the virus.

“However, until now, there has been little understanding of how these killer T cells find their way to the virus,” she added.

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