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Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) © Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)

Super microscope decodes immune response signals

Hopes rise of better understanding of autoimmune diseases

Scientists at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) have investigated how the immune system reacts 50 milliseconds after activating cells using microscopic high-performance methods, a press release said Wednesday (December 19, 2018). Scientists hope that the new findings will lead to a better understanding of the development of autoreactive T-cells and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Involved processes examined

The immune system is a complex network that protects our body against pathogens. A distinction is made between the innate (non-specific) and acquired (highly specific) immune response. An essential part of the acquired immune response is represented by the so-called T-cells. If the immune system is off balance, auto reactive T-cells can develop which fight the body’s own healthy tissue and cause an autoimmune disease.

“We investigated the first seconds of T-cell activation and the biochemical signalling processes involved in our study,” said Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Guse, Director of the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology at UKE. The underlying mechanisms could be measured 50 milliseconds after activation of the cells. “Such a high temporal resolution was largely unknown hitherto,” he added.

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