In 10 seconds? Immune cells called T cells are great at fighting cancer until they become ‘exhausted’. Scientists believe they may have uncovered a master switch that controls T cell exhaustion, which paves the way for therapies that could prevent T cell-based cancer treatments from losing their potency over time.

Wait! What do you mean by T cell exhaustion? For this, I need to remind you of cancer's big trick: stopping our immune system from wiping out cancerous cells. To elaborate, T cells are immune cells that can attack and kill problematic cells–like virally-infected or cancerous cells. With time, however, T cells can lose their cell-killing abilities–a phenomenon known as T-cell exhaustion. When T cells become exhausted, cancer can gain the upper hand and continue to grow unchecked. As a result, scientists have been working to understand T cell exhaustion on a molecular level–and a new study reveals their progress.

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