Immune privilege is an adaptation by our immune system that enables different immune defenses and protection that avoid causing damage and death of bystander cells. This article will focus specifically on the immune privilege of your eyes.
The beautiful image above is a glowing green nematode worm, C. elegans. This worm is naturally translucent, not green. To make it glow, the worm was engineered to contain a jellyfish protein called Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in each of its cells. This addition allowed scientists to capture this glowing image with a fluorescent microscope. Today, GFP is used in labs around the world to study the behavior of cells, organelles (mitochondri anyone?), and proteins in real time. GFP has been adapted to react to changes in a cell’s environment,like pH levels or concentration of specific ions like oxygen or iron. This single protein has provided scientists insight into the mechanisms of cell division, protein dynamics, cell motility, tissue growth, and many other important biological phenomena.
What secret, insidious chemicals are added to our bottled water, possibly to taint our conveniently pre-packaged drinking supply? Here we explore the foreign molecules present in virtually all the water we encounter.
For many years, scientists and doctors alike weren’t sure if the appendix actually had a purpose(1). The fact that many animals have an appendix, including rodents, rabbits, some primates, and humans, seemed to suggest the appendix did have a purpose, whether or not the purpose was still useful(1). Some scientists believed that the appendix was a left-over part of a digestive tract that was used to digest cellulose (found in foods like broccoli, cauliflower, kale) when our diets had more greens than meat(2). It wasn’t until we realized that we need bacteria in our gut to survive that other theories for the appendix’s function emerged(1).
Cancer is inherently a genetic disease. Within our bodies, there is an ongoing biological battle between two categories of genes with opposing functions. On one side, there are cancer-causing genes. But on the other side, there are genes responsible for preventing this illness from arising in the first place. Read on to learn more about the genetic mechanisms behind cancer.