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Showing results 81-91 of 100 for 'Immune system'

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    Researchers Discover 10 New Immune Systems in Bacteria

    Bacteria have been defending themselves from phages—viruses that attack bacterial cells—for billions of years, and unlocking the immune mechanisms they use to protect themselves has led to the development of powerful molecular biology tools such as restriction enzymes and CRISPR-Cas9. Now, researchers report in Science today (January 25) that they have discovered 10 more immune systems that bacteria use to protect themselves against phages and plasmids, opening up the possibility to add new tools to the molecular biology toolbox.

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    Bacterial Immune Systems Take the Stage

    Until a decade ago, scientists were not aware that bacteria had complex immune systems that could keep up with the pace of evolution in viruses called phages that infect bacteria. That changed with the discovery of what is now the most famous bacterial immune mechanism: CRISPR. This is a natural gene editor that has revolutionized the world of biological research in thousands of labs around the world. Researchers now understand that most microorganisms have sophisticated immune systems of which CRISPR is just one element; but there has been no good way to identify these systems.

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    Coaxing the Immune System to Fight Cancer

    Immuno therapy was once the black sheep of cancer research. Originally conceived over a century ago, it aims to stimulate a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. That’s a very different approach than chemotherapy, which essentially poisons tumors.

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    Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks

    When the physician and scientist Emil Lou was an oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center about a decade ago, he was regularly troubled by the sight of something small but unidentifiable in his cancer-cell cultures. Looking through the microscope, he said, he “kept finding these long, thin translucent lines,” about 50 nanometers wide and 150 to 200 microns long, extending between cells in the culture. He called on the world-class cell biologists in his building to explain these observations, but nobody was sure what they were looking at. Finally, after delving into the literature, Lou realized that the lines matched what Hans-Hermann Gerdes’ group at the University of Heidelberg had described as “nanotubular highways” or “tunneling nanotubes” (TNTs) in a 2004 paper in Science.

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    An Inside Look at Probiotics

    Every day, millions of people take probiotics – preparations containing live bacteria that are meant to fortify their immune systems, prevent disease, or repair the adverse effects of antibiotics. Yet the benefits of probiotics have not really been medically proven. It is not even clear if probiotic bacteria really colonize the digestive tract or, if they do, what effects the colonies have on humans and their microbiomes – the native bacteria in their guts. Now, in two back-to-back reports published in Cell, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science show – in both mice and in humans – that a preparation of 11 strains of the most widely used probiotic families may sometimes be less than beneficial for the user and their microbiome.

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    Probiotics “Not as Beneficial for Gut Health as Previously Thought”

    Probiotics, hailed by some as a cure for all kinds of digestive ailments and recommended by many GPs alongside antibiotics, may not be as universally beneficial for gut health as previously thought. The gut microbiome is the sum total of all the micro-organisms living in a person’s gut, and has been shown to play a huge role in human health. New research has found probiotics – usually taken as supplements or in foods such as yoghurt, kimchi or kefir – can hinder a patient’s gut microbiome from returning to normal after a course of antibiotics, and that different people respond to probiotics in dramatically different ways.

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    Looking in Cellular Trash Cans

    If we really want to know how our body’s cells work – or don’t work, in the case of disease – we might need to look beyond our genes and even beyond the proteins the genes are made of. We may need to start going through the cellular “trash.” The group of Dr. Yifat Merbl of the Weizmann Institute of Science developed a system to do just that, finding that “cellular dumpster-diving” contains information about the cell’s function that is not otherwise seen. The group applied their new approach to profiling the immune cells of patients with an autoimmune disorder, discovering clear evidence of a signature pattern that provides a new way of thinking about the underlying causes of the disease. Furthermore, in the future, this may lead to better diagnostic techniques.