Health Watch - Infections: Preventing Re-Infection

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about viral and bacterial infections and how the body can fight them. Once you’ve had a virus, your body knows how to defend against it so you don’t get infected again. Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center may have learned how the body remembers how to fight viruses.

When you’re infected with a virus, your body generates immune cells to fight the infected cells. After they’ve defeated the infection, most of the immune cells die, except for some memory cells that remember how to fight that particular virus. The immune system protein interferon helps create these memory cells. Infected cells secrete interferon, which helps keep viruses from multiplying in the body. Dr. David Farrar, a UT Southwestern immunologist, says scientists had been focusing on interferon’s role in inhibiting infection, but knowing its part in creating memory cells may lead to new ways to fight viruses.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in infectious diseases.


March 2009

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