I'm over at Amasian Science today blogging about how proteins that bacteria use to slip past our defenses might be exploited to control the behavior of immune cells...with a little shout out to LoTR.
Human immune cells are remarkably adaptable. These foot soldiers of the immune system can be harvested from the body, retrained to recognize and fight different diseases, and then redeployed in the body. This process, known as adoptive cell transfer, has incredible potential for treating cancer or chronic infections–particularly in individuals whose immune systems have been weakened by diseases like AIDS. There is, however, a big problem with this technique. Immune cells that have been harvested and engineered to fight specific diseases can often go haywire and turn their weapons on host cells. As a result, healthy cells and tissues in the body that aren’t supposed to be attacked by immune cells get caught up in the crossfire and end up as casualties. As a solution, biologists want to keep these immune cells in line by reprogramming their behavior using the very tools that bacteria employ to slip past our immune system. Read more