Combining the fields of Bioinformatics and ImmunoChemistry, researchers from BioCentrum DTU and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen have created models of neural networks that can simulate how the body's immune system defends itself from disease.
The neural network models also indicate that the immune system protects itself from being deceived by microorganisms by using ingenious PIN code-like mechanisms.
According to the researchers, every human being has its own unique immune system PIN code, which is why the knowledge gained by a virus by unlocking the code in one person does not help it in infecting another individual.
However, the same defence mechanism makes it difficult to decode the entire human immune system, and develop precise immunological treatments such as vaccines, they add. With the creation of the new neural networks now, it is believed that the researchers will be able to predict all the different immune system PIN codes.
The researchers say that on a global scale, the neural networks may prove helpful in dealing with all the variables of an epidemic threat. "We'll be able to find candidates for vaccines which can help both the individual and all of humanity," says Professor Søren Buus from the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen.
A report describing the neural networks has been published in the scientific magazine PloS ONE.