Remembering a virus’s chemical bits and pieces is one way the immune system fights disease, as doing so lets the body respond faster to a repeat infection. This immune memory relies on specialized memory cells, a mechanism that is different from another of the body’s memory systems, odor memory, which stores chemical information in a collection of distributed neurons. Why does biology use different memory strategies? Why don’t humans “smell” viruses? The answer, according to new research, is that specialized memory cells are more effective in recognizing variant molecules from evolving viruses and other organisms. This insight into immune memory could help in developing vaccines and treating immune deficiencies.
Read more at APS Physics