Researchers expose how ‘James Bond’ cells are made

Researchers expose how ‘James Bond’ cells are made

Centenary celebrations
September 2015

Dr Shalin Naik
Dr Shalin Naik

New scientific research has revealed how immune cell ‘spies’ are created, providing clues on how the immune system could be manipulated to better fight disease.

What are dendritic cells?

Dendritic cells are intelligence-gathering immune cells, collecting information on viruses, bacteria, cancer and fungi to aid the immune system in fighting disease. Understanding how dendritic cells are created will aid scientists in finding ways to boost the immune response to infections or dampen it in autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Florent Ginhoux, Dr Andreas Schlitzer and colleagues from the Singapore Immunology Network, a research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore, together with the institute’s Dr Shalin Naik and Mr Jaring Schreuder, discovered each subtype of dendritic cell had its own unique parent cell.

Intelligence-gathering cells

Dr Naik said dendritic cells were the ‘James Bond’ of the immune system. “Dendritic cells are the intelligence-gathering cells that educate the immune system,” he said. “They tell the infection fighting T cells and Natural Killer cells what a virus, bacterium, fungus or cancer looks like so they know what they’re looking for when fighting disease.

“If we learn how to control dendritic cells, we could strengthen our immune response to infection when needed, or weaken the action of certain immune cells that attack the body’s own tissues in autoimmune disease.”

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Research team in a lab

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