Scientists are learning how our immune system senses and tracks down infection in the body by responding to chemical "scents" emitted by bacteria. Studying how immune cells manipulate their movement in response to external signals could shed light not only on how our immune system functions but also how cancer cells spread through the body and even how the brain wires itself.
Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh, Dr Holger Kress describes a new technique pioneered by himself and Professor Eric Dufresne at Yale University in the US that uses sponge-like micro-particles to mimic bacteria.
The micro-particles slowly release a characteristic bacterial "scent" that is picked up by immune cells, causing them to actively move towards the source of the chemical in an attempt to hunt down the model microbes.
Dr Kress believes his technique could be applied across a wide range of research fields. "Cell migration along chemical gradients of this kind plays a key role in wound healing and the wiring of the brain. It is also an essential feature of many diseases – particularly metastatic cancers," he said. ###
Contact: Laura Udakis email@example.com 44-118-988-1843 Society for General Microbiology