APS lecturer shows rare video of 'teacher-student' immune cell interactions in live animal

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. But these pictures could one day be worth much more -- the lives saved by the development of new vaccines.

Harvard University researcher Ulrich H. von Andrian showed the immune system of a live mouse being challenged by a foreign microbe during a presentation at Experimental Biology 2006. The footage gave many of the physiologists in attendance their first glimpse of these cells in action in a live animal.

Scientists have long studied the immune system, imagining how many of the component cells proceed on their microscopic duties. Until recently, there has been no way to directly view much of this complex cellular teamwork in vitro and in real time.

The von Andrian videos provided a real-time look at what happens inside a mouse lymph node when a foreign microbe enters the body. The videos were made possible by recent technological advances together with techniques the von Andrian lab developed.

*Henry Pickering Bowditch Award Lecture: "Migrants on a single-minded mission: How T cells find their antigen," 5:45 p.m., Sunday, April 2, Room 134, Convention Center Room 134. Speaker: Ulrich H. von Andrian, Harvard Medical School and CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Boston, MA.

The American Physiological Society presents the Henry Pickering Bowditch Award for early-career achievement to a scientist younger than 42, whose accomplishments are both original and outstanding. It is the Society's second highest award.

A medical doctor who also earned a Ph.D. in neurology and neurosurgery, von Andrian was originally interested in microvascular integrity in the brain. But during a fellowship early in his career, he discovered his interest in the immune system, and made it his life's work.

Rare footage highlights presentation

A live mouse's T cells and dendritic cells are the stars of the von Andrian videos, as the immune system marshals its forces to

Contact: Christine Guilfoy
American Physiological Society

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