Scientists from the Cambridge University have recorded the action of cytotoxic T cells with high-resolution 4D imaging. With the help of these microscopic images the researchers were able to analyse the different steps leading to the killing of suspicious cells.
The head of the research group from Cambridge, Professor Gillian Griffiths, explains: “The cytotoxic T cells patrol our bodies, identifying and destroying virally infected and cancer cells and they do so with remarkable precision and efficiency. In our bodies, where cells are packed together, it's essential that the T cell focuses the lethal hit on its target, otherwise it will cause collateral damage to neighbouring, healthy cells.”
The movie clearly shows how the T cells examine the surface of neighbouring cells with their small cell protrusions to identify possible foreign structures. If a virally infected or tumour cell is found, the T cel injects its cytotoxins. Griffiths says: “We can watch as the suspicious cell withers and dies. The T cell then moves on, hungry to find another victim."
Cambridge University, Immunity
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