The self-defence force awakens

04 Jul 2017

Our immune systems are meant to keep us healthy, but sometimes they turn their fire on us, with devastating results. Immunotherapies can help defend against this ‘friendly fire’ – and even weaponise it in our defence.

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Infections during pregnancy may interfere with key genes associated with autism and prenatal brain development

21 Mar 2017

If a mother picks up an infection during pregnancy, her immune system will kick into action to clear the infection – but this self-defence mechanism may also have a small influence how her child’s brain develops in the womb, in ways that are similar to how the brain develops in autism spectrum disorders. Now, an international team of researchers has shown why this may be the case, in a study using rodents to model infection during pregnancy.

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‘Clogged-up’ immune cells help explain smoking risk for TB

24 Mar 2016

Smoking increases an individual’s risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) – and makes the infection worse – because it causes vital immune cells to become clogged up, slowing their movement and impeding their ability to fight infection, according to new research published in the journal Cell.

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