Incredible video shows cancer being killed by immune system cell


A fascinating video shows what it looks like when an immune system cell attacks cancer.

The images were captured using a specialized microscope by cell biologist Alex Ritter and colleagues and slowed down slightly from real time.

In the video, seen below, a cell known as a T cell can be seen latching onto a cancerous lymphoma cell in an effort to kill it. The T cell takes on a fiery red appearance, “flames” licking up its sides, as it destroys its blue-colored prey.

The T cell isn’t actually on fire, of course – its appearance is caused in part by a fluorescent protein added by the researchers – but its dynamic, fluid surface is the cell’s natural reaction to identifying a target. cancerous,” Ritter tweeted.

The images were released as part of a new study published Thursday by Ritter and colleagues, in which they set out to investigate how cancer cells protect themselves against T-cell attack.

T cells are part of the body’s immune system and help protect us against infection. Also called T lymphocytes, these are white blood cells. T cells circulate in the body and perform a variety of functions, from controlling immune reactions to binding and destroying cancer cells or infected cells.

Killer T cells can destroy cancer cells by attaching themselves to them and then secreting toxins that destroy them from the inside. There are two types of toxins that do this; perforins, which create holes in the outer barrier of cancer cells; and cytotoxic proteins, which cross holes and kill cancer.

However, in their new study, Ritter and colleagues show that cancer cells can defend themselves against this onslaught by sealing the holes created by perforins using so-called ESCRT proteins. This can delay or even prevent T cells from killing them.

In a tweet, Ritter said he and his team hope their findings could be useful in making cancer therapies more effective. For example, Ritter said that when the team prevented the ESCRT repair process from working properly in cancer cells, “T cells were much more efficient at killing targets.”

The new study has been published in the journal Science April 21.

T cells already play a role in some cancer therapies that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer. In TIL therapy, for example, doctors will identify a type of T cell that best recognizes certain cancerous tumor cells. These T cells are then treated with substances that rapidly grow them into large numbers.

A file photo shows an illustration of a cancer cell being attacked by another cell. Some cancer treatments rely on the body’s immune system to target the cancer.
Marcin Klapczynski/Getty




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