Cytomegalovirus is a persistent herpesvirus that is problematic in a few populations, largely harmless in the short term for everyone else, largely unnoticed by those infected, and widely prevalent in the population. Near everyone is infected by the time old age arrives. Unfortunately, CMV appears to be a major factor in the age-related decline of the adaptive immune system, possibly by causing ever more immune cells to become uselessly specialized to target it, leaving too few immune cells for other tasks. This sort of runaway resource misallocation in the immune system is a large problem in the elderly, given that the thymus, where new T cells of the adaptive immune system mature, is near entirely atrophied by late life, reducing the supply of new cells to a trickle. Effective vaccination will help this situation, but there is good reason to think that, for the oldest to benefit, it must be accompanied by selective destruction of cytomegalovirus-focused immune cells, and restoration of the supply of new immune cells.
A research team says it has identified a key marker that will help speed effective vaccine
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